Sunday, December 30, 2018

"Polling agents arrested" and "ballots box stuffing"

The next roll of the rigging dice now seems to be the police arresting opposition polling agents and ballot box stuffing - though it remains unclear how extensive this is.

Polling agents should be able to play a crucial role in ensuring that some of the crasser attempts at vote rigging during the actual voting and the count do not take place. Removing opposition polling agents from the scene is a way to allow vote-stuffing and improper vote-counting - particularly when, as revealed by BangladeshPolitico, "Core AL Presiding Officers" have been allocated to certain polling stations.

Local BNP activists in the constituency of Thakurgoan-1, where the opposition leader Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is contesting, have told BangladeshPolitico that at least seven of its polling agents, each attached to a separate polling centre, were arrested by the police on Saturday. As of writing, three of them remain detained, and the whereabouts of the other four are uncertain.

Five of the polling centres involved are in the following unions: Goalpara, Awliapur, Akhanagar, Sabujbari, Gilanagar. 

Local opposition activists are also claiming that Awami League supporters have taken over three polling centres in the constituency with the assistance of the police and are stamping ballot papers inside - though the circumstances are unclear.

BNP constituency activists say that when they informed Colonel Ishtiaq, who is the army commander responsible for this area, of these activities, but he declined to take action other than saying he would inform the police. 

Similar activities are being reported in other parts of the country, though these remain unconfirmed. 

In Dhaka-15, for example, BangladeshPolitico has been informed that the Awami League has taken control of at least five polling stations - including Alzahra, Adarsha School, Hemaine Meiner School, West Sheora Para Ayurveydy Medical School polling stations which comprise 25,000 voters. 

Newspapers have also reported allegations of similar activities.

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