A digitalised system of election can improve the efficiency of the electoral process while ensuring information services to the citizens. Often the new and young voters are not aware of how to vote, in which locations.
With rapid urbanization and globalization, both internal and external migration have increased in Bangladesh. Posing a challenge for the Election Commission during the election. The US has allowed mail-in ballots. However, in Bangladesh, mass application of mail-in ballots do not exist. Of course that is a long way ahead for the EC to catch up with the needs of the modern age. On the other hand, this is the age of information, where EC’s operations can be streamlined using IT. However, the EC has started the digitalization process.
In 2018’s general election, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were introduced in six constituencies for the first time for piloting. Digital Media have been used in the 11th parliamentary election to reach out voters.
Throughout the last five year Bangladesh has prepared itself to conduct a smart election in 2024 through various methods.
Bangladesh Election Commission has announced Smart Election Management BD Application on November 12. The voters can identify their voting centres and get constant polls information if they sign up with their NID information and phone number after downloading the app on mobile services. One can easily get the candidates name and their symbols in the 12th Parliamentary Election.
The total number of voters in 300 available seats with district specific information.
The voters can easily get demographic details of the area, registered political parties and the average voter's age.
The voters will get the location information of their required poll centres through google map as well.
Live updates of voting data will be available with voting patterns and ongoing results which will refresh in every two hours.
Visual representation of election results will be available as per EC plans, such as- line and donut charts in future updates.
Nomination Paper Submission- Online
It is important for the Election Commission (EC) to facilitate a simpler and more equitable electoral process. And the EC has facilitated provisions to submit nomination papers online to encourage candidates. Online nomination paper filing can lessen the political squabbles and infractions that frequently happen throughout the process, which has turned into a political culture.
One major political party, Bangladesh Awami League, currently in power, has made sure that their forms can be purchased online creating a smart campaigning environment. Through the nomination.albd.org website, prospective candidates may get and submit their nomination forms electronically. There, they can also pay the Tk 50,000 fee for the form. Following that, the nominations were carefully examined by the Election Commission.
This online system of submitting nomination papers will stop anybody from putting undue pressure on candidates to either submit or withdraw their nomination documents. It’s become customary to create political showdowns upon nomination papers submission. While submitting the nomination, leaders and activists occasionally clash; occasionally, many nominees encounter resistance, while others are subjected to political pressure. The entire election administration procedure may be more equitable and simplified with online submission.
International Election Observer Selection through Website
International Election Observers can apply to observe elections through applying online from EC’s website. Applying to the Election Commission is the first step in becoming a foreign election observer for Bangladesh’s 2024 elections.
The deadline for international observers of elections to apply was till December 7, 2023 through the website of EC. Applications have already been received from a number of organisations that represent observers from twelve different nations. International election observers are required by standards to have prior professional experience in human rights, democracy, good governance, and elections. The Election Commission sets the requirements and application procedure; interested parties or organisations should refer to the rules and submit their applications by the deadline.
The political parties like Awami League are using digital platforms in order to do their electoral campaigning. In addition to using customary signs, banners, posters, festoons, rallies, and door-to-door canvassing, the majority of candidates have chosen to make use of digital technology. This may improve voter outreach, publicise their platforms and programmes, and boost turnout by implementing various digital channels.
Targeting specific demographics like the particular constituencies, the incumbent Awami League is reaching to its voters through social media with their songs, development outcomes and election manifesto future plans. With more than 120 million people in the nation using the internet, virtual platforms are now the go-to method for political campaigns.
The Awami League candidates are using QR codes in Leaflets. AFM Bahauddin Nasim, the party’s candidate in the Dhaka-8 constituency handed out pamphlets and handbills in a number of wards. There is a QR code on these handouts and pamphlets. Voters may quickly obtain their voter number, voter information, and polling station details by scanning the QR code. However, the Awami League’s candidate for the Dhaka-15 seat, Kamal Ahmed Majumder, is already handing out slips with QR codes from his election office. Information about polling stations is now easily accessible thanks to this new technology.
Facebook Pages of Bangladesh Police, Election Commission, were are working to combat the cyber crimes. To speak against the rumours, and smear campaigns against holding the election, the ruling party is engaging with the international community and foreign policy makers online.
SMS via mobile operators include awareness concerns and the process of voting to the voters which are sent by the EC as well as the candidates.
About the Author
A R Tahseen Jahan is a Research Associate at The Confluence and a student of Development Studies at the University of Dhaka. She is also serving as an Editor at Dhaka University Law and Politics Review.