Thursday, June 27, 2019 | ePaper

Vote does not count so the voters are not interested

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Of the 492 upazilas, 480 are scheduled to go to election in five phases this year. Polls were held in 78 upazilas in the first phase on March 10 and in 116 upazilas in the second phase on March 18. Election to 122 upazilas will be held on March 31 in the fourth phase. The EC is yet to announce the schedule for the fifth-phase polls.

Sporadic violence and irregularities at a number of voting centres marked the third phase of Upazila Parishad elections on Sunday amid a low voter turnout. Of the 117 upazilas that went to polls, Katiadi upazila in Kishoreganj saw voting suspended in all its 89 centres following allegations of ballot stuffing and vote rigging, as per local daily reports.

 At a post-polls briefing, Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said the elections were peaceful. He further said Kishoreganj Additional Superintendent of Police Shafiqul Islam and Officer-in-Charge of Katiadi Police Station Shamsuddin were withdrawn over allegations of their involvement in the irregularities. He stated that it is not a matter of concern for the EC how many voters cast their ballots in the polls. The Commission rather cared about whether the voting was peaceful or not.

 It is unthinkable that the EC should only worry about whether elections were peaceful and not worry about voter turnouts--which have been the lowest since independence in almost every form of elections held--whether it is the national elections or local. The turnout in the first phase of the elections was 43 percent and it dropped to 41 percent in the second phase. Some 28 candidates were elected unopposed in the first phase, 48 in the second phase and 55 in the third.

 This is only possible when voters decide that their votes have no value--assuming the above numbers are correct, of course. If they aren't it would mean that in reality an even smaller percentage of voters really voted. In such a situation administrations and governments can become elected with a small amount of the actual electorate actually voting. This can't be called a democratic process by any means.

Artificially inflating voter turnout does not mean that most of the voters actually voted. You can fool some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people. The voterless elections are therefore representative less, as a significant percentage of the electorate feels that their votes won't count. So the formation of administrations based on such votes is not representative of the true nature of the people's wishes.

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