List of 8.11cr voters handed over to EC | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 15, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 15, 2008

List of 8.11cr voters handed over to EC

Army winds up a highly ambitious mission

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With the completion of the electoral roll with photograph, Bangladesh is now also the proud owner of the world's largest electronic database of 8.11 crore voters.
A delegation of Bangladesh Army, which assisted the Election Commission (EC) in implementing the voter list project, handed over the printed electoral roll to EC yesterday, wrapping up the over-one-year-long mammoth task.
It will soon hand over to EC the electronic database, which is higher than that of France's 7.3 crore voters.
The entries have been checked and re-checked in such a way that strictly prevented duplication, causing a decrease by 1.5 crore voters in the new list compared to the previous controversial electoral roll prepared in 2006.
"Today we're really delighted and proud of it. The high ambitious task has been completed putting to rest all skepticism about the project's success," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda said receiving some copies of the voter list symbolically in a special ceremony.
The poll chief said the stalled ninth parliamentary election is going to be held in December as the task for preparing the voter list with photograph has been completed within the stipulated timeframe.
Terming a flawless voter list the main base of holding a free and fair election, the CEC said: "We can now assure the nation that there is no scope for casting fake votes in the elections.”
On the authenticity of the electoral roll, Maj Gen Shafiqul Islam, military secretary to the Army Headquarters, said the new electoral roll is comparable to the lists prepared in the western and other developed countries.
"We believe our voter list has less errors compared to the lists prepared by the developed countries," Shafiqul said after handing over some copies of the final voter list to the CEC.
"The Operation Nabojatra has been concluded through the handover of the final voter list," Shafiqul said, adding, "Besides election purpose, the database can be used for other constructive work."
Senior army officials engaged in the mammoth project that began in August last year said before preparation of electoral roll with photograph in Bangladesh, the largest electronic database of 7.3 crore voters belonged to France.
The EC took the high ambitious project of preparing the voter list with photograph and facilitating the issuance of identity cards last year with an estimated cost of Tk 447 crore.
Launched in August last year, the field-level task for voter registration was completed in June this year and the rest of the tasks including printing of the draft voter list, publication of those and printing of final electoral roll were completed on October 13.
According to the electoral roadmap announced by EC in July last year, the entire task was supposed to be completed by October.
The final voter list has already been sent to the respective areas to be used for the upcoming parliamentary and upazila polls, CEC Huda said.
"We will now have to make the electoral roll more authentic and fair," he added.
The poll chief said the ninth parliamentary poll scheduled for January 22, 2007 was questioned on grounds of fairness of the voter list.
"The number of voters on the current list has decreased by around 1.5 crore compared to the previous list and calculating 2.5 percent population growth per year," he said.
On the previous list prepared in 2006 revising the earlier one, the number of voters was 9.3 crore. That list was later scrapped due to a large number of duplications and other errors, costing the exchequer Tk 60 crore for nothing.
The violent dispute that raged over the 2006 voter list was one of the main reasons for the 1/11 changeover of power and the subsequent stalling of the ninth parliamentary election.
According to a report prepared by the army, only 4,286 duplicate voters were detected in biometric matching. Of them, 2,382 registered them as voters twice or more unintentionally, while 919 registered them intentionally.
Legal actions have been taken against 563 individuals for the offence and process is underway to take actions against others.
CEC Huda said those who failed to enroll their names on the voter list will be able to register next year when EC will revise the voter list.
"Due to time constraint, it is not possible for us to register them as voters before the upcoming polls," he said.
On listing BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on the electoral roll, the CEC said the commission has already asked her to get registered on the voter list whenever she wants.
"We can make some exceptions regarding registering names on the voter list by exercising the Election Commission's inherent power," Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hussain said.
But according to the revised Representation of the People Order (RPO), Khaleda will have to get registered on the voter list before filing an application for candidacy in the upcoming parliamentary polls, if she wants to contest.
The RPO has made mandatory for the parliamentary aspirants to get registered on the voter list for being qualified to contest the polls.
According to a report prepared by the army, around 10,000 personnel from the armed forces were engaged in the countrywide voter-listing project.
Besides preparation of the voter list, 8.11 national identity cards have also been printed.
CEC Huda has thanked the members of the armed forces, officials of the civil administration and people for their assistance to complete the task.

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