The Election Commission hopes that the voter turnout will increase in Dhaka city elections with participation of young voters.
Over 53.64 lakh voters, half of them aged between 19 and 36 years, are expected to cast their votes this year, said the Election Commission (EC) officials.
Today, the voters of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) would elect their mayors and ward councillors for the next five years.
“If the youths come to the polling centres, total turnout will increase,” said DNCC returning officer Abul Kashem.
Amid reservations of multiple political parties and confusion among many voters, all the polling centres of DSCC and DNCC would use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) this year.
According to the EC officials, there are 54.64 lakh voters in the capital. In the 2002 Dhaka City Corporation polls, there were 28.69 lakh voters and after that, about 25.96 lakh voters enrolled in the voters’ list, who were between the ages of 19 to 36 years.
Meanwhile, in the 2015 DNCC and DSCC elections, there were 42.19 lakh voters, after which 12.44 lakh voters were enrolled in the voters’ list.
Redwan Ibne Shams, a university student in Mirpur-10 area, said, “I am looking forward to the polls and excited to cast my vote using the EVM. However, the law and order situation is an important consideration.”
VOTER TURNOUT A CONCERN
Speaking at a meeting with the chiefs of different law enforcement agencies on January 22, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar said voter turnout was low in the December 2018 national election, as many voters were still apprehensive about using the EVMs.
Officials at the EC said voter turnout is a matter of concern as they have witnessed a low number of voters when they used EVMs on previous occasions.
The EVMs were used in six constituencies in the last parliamentary election in December 2018, and in subsequent elections after that.
The average vote casting rate was 51.42 percent in those constituencies, while it was 80.80 percent in the 294 constituencies where ballot paper was used.
On the other hand, voter turnout in the all-EVM Chattogram-8 by-polls was 22.94 percent on January 13 and 34.55 percent votes were cast in the all-EVM Bogura-6 by-polls in June last year.
DSCC returning officers Abdul Baten and Kashem said they took measures to bring voters and make them aware about the new method.
They held EVM exhibitions in all polling centres on January 28, while mock votes were conducted in all voting centres. There was a low presence of voters in the mock vote.
“We are also airing TV commercials, running ads in newspapers and giving ads on billboards in Dhaka to spread awareness among the voters,” said Baten.
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said the new EVMs would be easy to use for all, especially the youth who are accustomed to gadgets.