Supporting the electoral process in Bangladesh

03 Nov 2009

Electoral reform is an ongoing process in Bangladesh, and one that UNDP has been involved with for some time, including the unprecedented registration of 81 million voters from all walks of Bangladeshi life in 2008. Following the resounding success of this registration drive, which created a gold-standard, internationally renowned photo voter list, the Bangladesh Election Commission, with the support of UNDP and other international organizations, is working to make the process sustainable and permanent.

Indeed, updating of the rolls began just six months after last December’s parliamentary election. UNDP is working with the Commission to introduce new technologies, develop the skills of electoral workers and to ensure best practices in the registration process across the country. The list itself was designed to be as simple to maintain as possible, relying on readily available technology like laptops, webcams and fingerprint scanners.

“The whole thing is very easy, we can do it without much trouble,” said Mohammad Rohim Hassan, an election worker who was recently dispatched to update voter rolls in a community in the Chittagong hills. “People come in with their forms which have already been completed.”

Hassan and the rest of his team then type the information into the laptop computers they travel with to registration sites, photograph the registrants and their signature and take digital copies of their fingerprints.

UNDP is also working with the Netherlands and the Election Commission to establish about 500 registration centres on the local level across the country. The centres will help the Commission’s efforts to decentralize its work, improving the public’s access to and interaction with local election offices.