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Laws Related to Voter List and Electoral Act

Bangladesh is accredited as a democratic country as per our constitution which gives the citizens of Bangladesh the right to choose and exercise their voting rights freely and voluntarily. Any person over the age of 18 has the right to vote, according to Article 122 of the Bangladesh Constitution and Section 7 of the Voter List Act, 2009. An Electoral Roll is a public record which includes an accumulation of the list of people who are eligible to exercise their vote rights in an election taking place in a particular jurisdiction. The government realized the need for electoral rolls in the year 2006 for a smooth operation of the parliamentary elections and hence they had implemented it through an Ordinance which was issued in this respect in 1982 (Ordinance No. LXI of 1982). Nevertheless, it encountered barrage of public outrage, voiced by the media and civil society. As a result, the Electoral Rolls Act of 2009 was passed by Parliament (Act 6 of 2009) which has been given a retrospective effect from 9th August 2007. 

Voter List Laws in Bangladesh

Computer Based Database Storage of Voter Lists

The Act establishes a more technologically friendly voter list that allows for the preservation of computer-based records for voter registration and eventual updates. Voter lists with photographs will be prepared after registration of voters with the help of computer based database for every elections. The procedure for preparation of database and preparation of voter list and matters relating to its use shall be determined by the Commission. Prior to Electoral Roll Act 2009, it was standard practice to change or modify voting lists between the announcement of the election day and the actual day of the election to the Parliament and other elected municipal bodies. However, Section 10 of the Electoral Rolls 2009 Act states that the Electoral Rolls may be amended at any other time, in the prescribed manner, apart from the period between the date of announcement of the election till the election schedule of the various elected organization. A vital provision of the Act requires computerized data base to be updated every year from 2nd January to 2nd March.

Removal of Voter from the List

This law-mandated method of reviewing the registry entails the addition of new registered voters and the elimination of names of voters who have died or have become ineligible. The statute specifies the conditions for eligibility and ineligibility. It also entails the reversal of a change in the voter's usual residence. Finally, the statute stipulates that if the list is not revised in compliance with the prescribed protocols, it will not be declared null and its continuity will not be jeopardized. Section 14 of the Act further confirms that no voter list will be invalidated due to misrepresentation of a person details included in the voter list or inclusion of the name of a person who is not entitled to be included as such. However, if a person is not a citizen of Bangladesh; declared unnatural by any appropriate court; if convicted of any offense under the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order, 1972 (P.O. No. 8 of 1972); Or Convicted of any offense under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 (Act No. XIX of 1973).] then his name, which is registered as a voter, should be removed from the voter list. Furthermore, the law demands punishments if a person in relation to the preparation, revision, amendment or updating of any voter list or in relation to any inclusion in any voter list gives a written statement or declaration which is false and which he knows or believes to be false , he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding two thousand rupees or both.Local proprietorship and partnership businesses have also grown to unprecedented levels where they are creating a lot of employment. Along with this growth, there comes some challenges in maintaining these working forces. Also, there are other labour intensive industries such as in the RMG, Agro industries etc. 

Maintaining the payroll in such offices and industries can become a challenge as this means maintaining a separate wing to this purpose. This means dedicating separate office space for this work which in this era, in such busy cities like Dhaka or Chittagong with limited commercial space could be quite expensive and challenging. Adding to this challenge is the requirement of training a group of employees for payroll specifically. Since, payroll maintenance requires constant update with the legal and taxation matters, there is constant training required to keep up to date. Also, further there is the need to be in sync with the digital age which warrants purchase of expensive technology and software. Most importantly, this is a time consuming operation and this time can be utilized by the entity for other purposes.

Conclusion

The Act also gives the Election Commission more authority in many cases. These include the Commission's right to request information from any organization, the power to make rules under the Act, the removal of any court's control over any activity related to the planning of the voter list, and the penalties for presenting inaccurate information, including obstruction.


 However it is indeed worth mentioning that after the promulgation of the Electoral Act 2009, maintenance of records of voters became easier which in turn made the voter registration process legitimate.The primary aim of the voters' list is to verify a person’s eligibility to vote in the local or municipal or parliamentary elections which is undoubtedly one of the most integral part of a fair election process.