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Electoral System (Rules and Regulations)

Party agents and election observers

There is provision in Bangladesh election laws for appointment of Election Agents and Polling Agents to act on behalf of candidates.

10.1 Election Agents : The Election Agent of each candidate is entitled to visit the polling station and observe the poll. There is only one Election Agent for each candidate. The candidate must submit prior written notice to the Returning Officer containing particulars of his election agent.

10.2 Polling Agents : Each candidate may appoint up to two polling agents to be present and to observe polling at each polling station. However, if the station has more than one booth, the candidates are entitled to have up to five polling agents for the station.

10.3 Election Observers : While there is no specific provision of law allowing election monitoring or observation, the Election Commission has adopted a very liberal policy of entertaining local/International Observers to observe all elections conducted by the Commission.

The following facilitator guidelines have been drawn up by the Election Commission for both foreign and local observers willing to observe the elections.

10.4 Role of the Observers : The observers may watch activities prior to polling day and observe actual polling including count of votes on the election day.

It may be noted that on the election day (a) the observers may only observe the proceedings in the polling station and shall not participate in activities like campaign, voting, counting etc.; (b) they will not interfere with any of the election activities going on at the polling station; (c) announcement of any result of voting of a center or constituency must not be done by the observers/observer groups; (d) the observers are to be completely neutral and non-partisan and are required to satisfy the Election Commission on this.

10.5 Foreign Observers :

(1) Foreign Observers (FO) who like to observe polling in Bangladesh may get in touch with concerned Bangladesh Embassy abroad.
(2) FOs on arrival in Bangladesh are advised to enlist their names with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to obtain necessary assistance from the assistance cell in the MOFA.
(3) During their stay in Bangladesh they (FO) are to remain fully responsible for their board, lodging and transport.
(4) FOs are issued appropriate accreditation cards.

10.6 Local Observers

(1) Such Observers shall not be supporters of any political party and shall not do anything covertly or overtly which may compromise the quality of the election. Election Commission /Returning Officers reserve the right to cancel permission in cases of violation.

(2) Such Observers are to obtain clearance individually or in a group from the Election Commission/Returning Officers, as decided by the Election Commission.

10.7 Requirements

(1) All observers are expected to inform the Election Commission of the district/locations they want to visit during polling, so that the District Administration may assist them during the visit. They may be required to obtain IDs from the Returning Officer after having furnished the names and other particulars of the observers to be fielded. The Returning Officer of any Electoral area will have the authority to deny issue of ID to any Observer group if the Returning Officer is not satisfied with their antecedents.

(2) While in the districts they are advised to act in accordance with the advice of the Returning Officer, Assistant Returning Officer, Presiding Officer, Polling Officer, as the case may be, and to refrain from doing things which may disrupt poll proceedings.

(3) At any given time not more than one Observer (Local and Foreign) may enter inside a polling center to avoid crowding and to facilitate the entry of others who may be waiting outside. A Presiding Officer/Asstt. Presiding Officer may ask any observer to withdraw from the center at any time if he thinks that the observer’s presence may prejudice the voting in the center.

(4) During their visit to the polling centers the observers are to abide by all the legal and administrative requirements of the Presiding Officer/Asstt. Presiding Officer.

(5) It is expected that a copy of the written report by the Observer Group will be given to the Election Commission soon after the conclusion of the poll.

10.8 Pre-poll Activities by Observer Groups : Observer Groups are encouraged to carry out at their own cost voter education programme, TV programmes, rallies etc. to encourage people to participate in the poll. Such activities are to be completely non-partisan, unbiased and free from any religious, local or sectarian prejudice.

10.9 Journalists : Journalists willing to observe the polling are also covered by these guidelines.

The participation of large number of observers - national and international in 1991 and June, 1996 general elections improved transparency of the process of conducting the national election and added to their credibility and political acceptance. .

Compiled from and many other reliable sources
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