Voter turnout drops in fifth phase of municipal polls

02 March 2021

As much as 58.67 percent of voters have turned out in the fifth phase of the mayoral polls to the local government bodies, down from 65.33 percent in the fourth phase, according to the Election Commission.
The staggered elections were held in 230 municipalities across the country from December to February.
The results showed the ruling Awami League dominating the polls, with its mayoral candidates winning in 185 municipalities. Independent candidates won in 32 municipalities while the BNP fielded 11 winning candidates. Meanwhile, Jatiya Party and JaSod candidates bagged one mayoral post apiece.
Both electronic voting machines and traditional ballots were used to cast votes this time. Despite instances of unrest, violence and alleged occupation of polling stations, the Election Commission maintains that the elections were free and fair.
The turnout was 65.25 percent in the first phase of voting on Dec 28; 63.67 percent in the second phase on Jan 16 and 70.42 percent in the third phase on Jan 30. As many as 65.33 percent of voters cast ballots in the fourth phase on Feb 14, dropping to 58.67 percent in the fifth phase on Feb 28.
Another nine municipalities are set to go to vote in the sixth phase of the elections on Apr 11. Five years ago, the day-long mayoral elections in municipalities, contested along party lines, saw a turnout of 73.92 percent. In 2011, 78 percent of voters took part in the elections. However, the voter turnout has been relatively low in elections arranged by the current EC, led by KM Nurul Huda.
Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder has criticised the unrest and violence marring this year's municipal elections.
However, many also expressed satisfaction with the increase in average attendance.
Voting took place in 59 municipalities in the fifth phase of the elections on Sunday. The Awami League's candidates won 26 mayoral races while two went independent candidates and only one to the BNP.
Mizanur Rahman, deputy secretary of the EC secretariat, said the turnout for the mayoral polls was 58.67 percent. A total of 871,733 votes were counted by the EC.
The highest turnout in this phase was 81.54 percent in Chapainawabganj's Nachole where EVMs were used while the lowest was 43.76 percent in Laxmipur's Raipur.

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