By-polls in three constituencies amid coronavirus fear

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EVM to increase risks of contamination

The Election Commission (EC) is all set to hold by-polls in three constituencies – Dhaka 10, Gaibandha 3, and Bagerhat 4 – today amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The commission is holding the election at a time when at least 20 people have been infected by Covid-19 in Bangladesh, of whom one died and three sent home following recovery.

Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus, has killed over 9,000 people in more than 170 countries.

In Bangladesh, the government also imposed restrictions on all kinds of political, social, cultural, and religious gatherings in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Meanwhile, the health officials warned that holding the election during the current situation will pose risk for users who will cast their votes via Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).

“Using EVM system in the election will increase the risk of contamination as the system needs a finger to use it,” Additional Director General of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Nasima Sultana told reporters yesterday.

Meanwhile, the election materials including EVMs were sent to respective centres yesterday.

Voting at the three constituencies will begin at 9 am and will continue till 5 pm without any break.

A total of 312,281 voters are expected to cast their votes for six aspirants in Dhaka-10 by-polls while 408,074 voters for 4 candidates in Gaibandha-3 and 2,97,434 voters for two candidates in Bagerhat-4 constituency.

Despite the fact that election materials were distributed for polling officials, no safety mechanisms such as masks were given to the officials.

Election officials, wishing to remain anonymous expressed concern over the safety of voters in the polling station as well as the presence of voters in polling stations as the presence of voters were almost negligible during mock voting.

However, Election Commission Senior Secretary Md Alamgir on Thursday urged voters to come to the polling booths demanding that comprehensive measures have been taken to prevent coronavirus spread.