4.1 Responsibility of the Election Commission: Under the Constitution it is the
mandatory responsibility of the Election Commission to prepare electoral rolls
for the purpose of election to Parliament.
It is also the responsibility of the Election Commission to prepare such rolls for the purpose of election to the local bodies under relevant laws.
The Registration Officer (District Election Officer), under the direction, control and supervision of the Election Commission, obtains a statement in the prescribed form from each eligible voter who fulfils qualifying conditions. Every statement is required to be signed by or bear the thumb impression of the persons eligible for enrolment as voters. Each statement contains a certificate from the authorized person in the prescribed form to the effect that the statement made under law has been obtained after a personal visit to the house and also a certificate by the supervisor to the effect that the entries thereon have been verified and corrected after a house to house visit.
4.2 Eligibility for Registration A person shall be entitled to be enrolled as elector on the electoral roll for a constituency delimited the purpose of election to Parliament, if he/she –
(a) is a citizen of Bangladesh ;
(b) is not less than eighteen years of age ;
(c) does not stand declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind; and
(d) is or is deemed by law to be a resident of that constituency.
4.3 Registration Process :
The following are the steps in the registration:
(1) A statement in the prescribed form is obtained by the enumerator from each eligible voter through house to house visit.
(2) Each statement is verified by the supervisor who has to certify to the effect that the entries have been verified or corrected after house to house visit.
(3) The draft electoral roll is thereafter prepared on the basis of the statements and published by the Registration Officer after verification of entries to the extent of at least ten percent through house to house visit by an authorized officer together with a notice inviting claims or objections. The period of lodging claims and objections is fifteen days.
(4) Each claim or objection is to be addressed to the Revising Authority appointed by the Election Commission for this purpose and presented to the Revising Authority or the Registration Officer or the Assistant Registration Officer.
(5) Notice for hearing of claims or objections is to be issued by the Revising Authority and served either personally or by post. Claims and objections will be heard and disposed of after considering verbal or written objections or holding inquiry or summary inquiry, if required.
(6) The decision of the Revising Authority is final.
(7) The Registration Officer, after incorporating necessary changes in the draft electoral roll, publishes the final electoral roll in the prescribed manner.
Even after final publication of electoral rolls, there are provisions for amendments, i.e. correction, inclusion or deletion and revision of electoral rolls in the prescribed manner. Updating of the electoral rolls is thus a continuous process.
4.4 Process for preparation and issuance of Identity Card to the voters :
In 1994 an amendment was introduced in the relevant laws to the effect that no voter shall be given a ballot paper in the polling station, unless he is in possession of a valid identity card. Thereafter the Commission launched a scheme for issuance of identity cards.
When about one-third of the work was completed, the schedule for June 1996 election of Parliament was announced. As a result, the work for preparation of identity cards was suspended.
4.5 Improvement of the system of Registration :
There are certain problems faced by the field level officials during the registration process namely - (i) non-availability of the dwellers in the proper place during working hours, (ii) lack of holding number in rural areas including some cases in urban areas, (iii) determination of age, (iv) changes of occupation and residence, (v) illiteracy, (vi) lack of identification of proper individuals and the like.
To explore the possibility of simplification of the existing registration system and to resolve the field problems, the Election Commission has planned to undertake an exercise in this behalf with the assistance of a consultant. In this process, the census mechanisms and existing linkages between local government, health department and other relevant governmental agencies which are used for population statistics and voter’s list will be reviewed. Steps have also been taken in the meantime to simplify the registration form which is considered to be complicated by some quarters. With a view to ensuring continuous updating process of registration, necessary proposals are also under consideration for computerized electoral database. Steps are also being taken for mass awareness and voter education which include workshops, motivation rallies, awareness campaign, producing and disseminating posters, leaflets, television and radio spots. Steps are also being taken for comprehensive training programmes, updating the Training of Trainers Manual, other manuals and strengthening the Election Commission.