Although some incidents of irregularities were witnessed at the Khulna City Corporation (KCC) polls, those incidents did not have any impact on the election, said Election Working Group (EWG) yesterday.
The group's director, Dr Abdul Alim, said EWG observers witnessed specific incidents of electoral rule violations at 32 percent polling stations.
The election observation group, consisting of 28 leading civil society organisations in the country, made the observations at a press conference organised at Jatiya Press Club to disclose its preliminary observation on the KCC election.
“While there were attempts to alter the outcome of the voting in a number of polling stations, due to the low number of attempts observed, it doesn't appear that those were significant enough to undermine the results of the election,” said the EWG director.
Awami League candidate Talukder Abdul Khaleque was announced winner in the mayoral post of KCC at the election held on Tuesday, defeating BNP's Nazrul Islam Monju.
Average voter turnout at polling stations observed by EWG was 64.8 percent, Dr Alim said.
EWG was formed in 2006 with the shared goal of enhancing transparency and accountability of elections and other democratic processes in the country.
After the polling stations were opened, presence of agents representing the AL mayoral candidate was noticed at almost all stations by EWG observers. The presence of BNP agents was 88.8 percent.
The violations include ballot stuffing, minor violence in and outside the polling stations, presence of unauthorised individuals inside polling stations and obstructing voters from casting their ballots.
At 12:43pm, inside a polling station at Ward 24, around 15 to 20 people forcibly entered booth 7 and took possession of a huge stack of ballot papers. They stamped the ballots and stuffed ballot boxes with the ballot papers in the presence of law enforcers, said Dr Alim. “The law enforcers did not take any action against the perpetrators.”
At Ward 29, violence broke out between supporters of AL and BNP candidates around 12:40pm inside a polling station. The police later brought the situation under control, he added.
At Aliya Madrassa polling station under the same ward, indelible link was applied on the fingers of voters who were waiting in queue outside, the EWG director said, adding that when the same voters entered polling booths, they were told that they were not eligible to vote as their fingers had already been marked with the indelible ink.
EWG said their observers have reported to have found ballot boxes with proper security seals and they did not see any unauthorised persons in counting rooms at 119 polling stations that they visited.
Out of 289 polling stations in KCC, EWG sent observers at 145 polling stations under 27 wards. The polling stations were selected through random sampling.