A turnout that raises eyebrows | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:26 AM, May 17, 2018

A turnout that raises eyebrows

Of all the 286 polling centres in Khulna City Corporation, the one at Nayabati Haji Shariatullah Bidyapith in ward-10, stands out for recording a turnout of 99.94 percent voters.

The result sheet of the returning officer shows that all 1,818 voters, except one, exercised their franchise in Tuesday's KCC polls.

It is one of several polling centres that saw unrealistic voter turnouts while the overall turnout was less than 63 percent.

In the centres where the unusual casting was found, Awami League candidate Talukder Abdul Khaleque clinched an easy victory. In the Nayabati centre, Khaleque got 1,114 votes while BNP's Nazrul Islam Monju received 373 votes.

Talking to The Daily Star, an election official said, “Such casting of vote is unusual... It may happen due to some irregularities.”

Asked whether he would inform the Election Commission, the official refused to comment.

At two other polling centres in Natun Bazar Government Primary School officials found seemingly unrealistic numbers.

There were two polling centres inside the school premises in Natun Bazar area where mayor-elect Talukder Abdul Khaleque resides.

The results showed the turnout of one of the centres to be 91.38 percent. But when two correspondents visited the centre at around 12:45pm on Tuesday, the turnout according to the presiding officer stood at only 37 percent. The numbers changed before the polling ended at 4:00pm.

In the centre, Khaleque got 1,202 votes and Monju 141.

The turnout of the other centre was 81.63 percent, according to the results.

The polling centre at Maulana Bhashani Bidyapith in Khalishpur residential area is another example. The centre, according to records, saw a turnout of 97.60 percent.

In this centre, Khaleque and Monju got 997 and 390 votes respectively.

A correspondent of this newspaper, who had been to the centre on Tuesday at around 11:30am saw very few voters.

Records show the turnout in Jahannagar Government Primary School centre was 88.62 percent while Nayabati Janakalyan Government Primary School centre had 87.57 percent.

Of the total 286 centres, three centres saw a turnout of over 90 percent, three centres over 85 percent, six centres over 80 percent, 12 centres over 75 percent and 30 centres over 70 percent votes.

Former election commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain told The Daily Star that the returning officer in duty was supposed to recount the votes after the unusual casting had been found. The officer was aware of the issues.

Now he should inform election commission and the EC should take measures through investigating the matter, Sakhawat Hossain said.

“It is obviously ballot stuffing and result of other irregularities. Such casting of vote is not possible practically,” he said, adding the aggrieved candidates could appeal to the High Court.

In total, Khaleque got 1,74,851 votes in 286 polling centres, while Monju bagged 1,09,251 votes.

Tuesday's high-voltage polls, where Khaleque was elected the mayor of Khulna City Corporation for the second time, were marred by irregularities.

According to four of our correspondents who visited 60 polling centres, there were instances of stuffing ballots and driving out polling agents of the opposition.

Soon after the voting ended, Monju alleged of "huge rigging" at 101 centres and demanded a re-election.

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