Since independence of Bangladesh until 2014, the Election Commission of Bangladesh has conducted a number of elections that include 8 parliamentary elections, 3 presidential elections with direct voting by the people, 3 referendums, and several local body elections. Among those, 13 were held under military governments (5 local, 3 referendums, 2 presidential and 3 parliamentary), and the remaining under civilian governments. Three parliamentary elections were held under non-party caretaker governments in 1991, 1996, and 2001.
In Bangladesh, Article 118 of the Constitution provides for the establishment of an Election Commission for Bangladesh consisting of the Chief Election Commissioner and not more than four Election Commissioners. The appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (if any) is made by the President. When the Election Commission consists of more than one person, the Chief Election Commissioner is to act as its Chairman. Under the Constitution the term of office of any Election Commissioner is five years from the date on which he enters upon office. A person who has held office as Chief Election Commissioner is not eligible for appointment in the service of the Republic. Any other Election Commissioner is, on ceasing to hold such office, eligible for appointment as Chief Election Commissioner, but is not eligible for appointment in the service of the Republic.
Powers of Election Commission:
The Election Commission is an independent constitutional body in the exercise of its functions and subject only to the Constitution and any other law. The Commission may authorize its Chairman or any of its members or any of its officers to exercise and perform all or any of its powers and functions under the law.
Article 126 of the Constitution and Articles 4 and 5 of the Representation of the People Order, 1972 provide that it shall be the duty of all executive authorities to assist the Election Commission in the discharge of its functions.
The Commission has the power to require any person or authority to perform such functions or render such assistance for the purpose of electron as it may direct.
The Election Commission has a full-fledged Secretariat under it to render all assistance to execute the decisions and orders of the Commission. The Election Commission Secretariat is headed by a Secretary to the Government.
Functions of the Election Commission Secretariat are to assist the Election Commission for;
(a) Preparation of electoral rolls for use in all national and local bodies elections.
(b) Delimitation of territorial constituencies for the purposes of election to Parliament.
(c) Conduct of referendum and elections (including bye-election/re-election) to the office of President, Parliament, Paurashavas (Municipal Committees), City Corporations, Union Parishads (Union Councils) and Three Hill Districts Councils etc.
(d) Reservation and allocation of symbols to political parties/candidates, when required;
(e) Supervision of polling arrangements throughout the country on the eve of each election and appointment of polling personnel, namely : Returning Officers, Assistant Returning Officers, Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers and Polling Officers;
(f) Printing and supply of ballot papers to all polling stations located all over the country;
(g) Procurement of election materials including ingredients for the manufacture of indelible ink and their distribution amongst the polling stations;
(h) Procurement, supply, storage and maintenance of ballot boxes throughout the country;
(i) Setting up of elaborate machinery throughout the country for collection and dissemination of result of elections;
(j) Consolidation of all election results and their formal publication in the official gazette, as required by law;
(k) Constitution of Tribunal for the disposal of election petitions and performance of such other functions in this regard as may be prescribed by any other law;
(l) Framing and publicity pertaining to the elections and their implementation;
(m) Collection and compilation of election data for research, reference and records;
(n) Preparation and publication of comprehensive reports of all types of elections;
(o) Regulation and control of officers and staff of the Election Commission Secretariat and its field establishment;
(p) All laws on subjects allocated to it.
(a) Divisional : There are 9 Deputy Election Commissioners posted at 9 Divisional Headquarters.Functions of the Divisional Offices are to maintain liaison between the Election Commission Secretariat and the subordinate field level offices and to co-ordinate the work relating to conduct of all types of elections and registration of voters and preparation of electoral rolls including day to day amendment and correction in the list of electoral rolls and other matters as and when entrusted by the Election Commission .
(b) District: There are 83 Election Offices in the 64 District Headquarters headed by District Election Officer.
The District Election Officers carry out all work relating to registration of voters, printing of voters’ list, management of national and local level elections, training of polling personnel and all logistical arrangements for elections. As an officer of the Election Commission, the District Election Officer renders all possible assistance to the Returning Officer and polling personnel with forms, packets, manuals, instructions and supply of ballot boxes, electoral rolls, ballot papers and maintains all accounts for expenses incurred for different elections.
(c) Thana/Upzila set-up: At the lowest tier of the field organization, there are Thana/Upzila Election Officers in all Thanas/Upzilas. The main functions of the Thana Election Officer are to assist divisional/district offices in the discharge of functions relating to elections.
Returning Officers and Asst. Returning Officers:
For all national and local level election, Returning Officers and Asst. Returning officers are appointed from among government officials by the Election Commission or by authorized officers of the Commission for conducting specified election.
Presiding Officers and Polling Officers:
Within the constituency, Polling Stations, each generally having five polling booths, are organized in such a way that about four hundred voters can cast their votes at a booth between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the polling day. Each polling station is headed by a Presiding Officer (PO) and each booth by an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO). Each APO is assisted by two Polling Officers. All these officials – POs, APOs and Polling Officers are drawn from government and non-government organizations, taking into account their experience, abilities, integrity and courage.
The Election Commission Secretariat (ECS) is a full-fledged division of the Government of Bangladesh which directly deals with Ministry of Finance about all matters relating to allocation of fund for all administrative and electoral activities. For elections to all tiers (local and national) the Secretariat sends estimates to the Ministry of Finance for allocation of required fund which normally the Secretariat gets. Not only electoral and administrative budget but also budget relating to law and order for conduct of election is also allocated to EC Secretariat. The EC Secretariat reallocates fund to the Ministry of Home for all the law enforcing agencies. This is unique in Bangladesh in the context of Budget allocation for conduct of election.
Election Commission of Bangladesh, http://www.ec.org.bd/English/MenuTemplate1.php?Parameter_MenuID=6&ByDate=0&Year=
Policy Brief, Election Commission, National Integrity System Assessment Bangladesh, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), 2014
Link : Election Commission Bangladesh (Official website)
PDF : Election Management Body – Roles and Responsibilities (Amardesh)
PDF : Relations with the Parties and Media (Amardesh)
PDF : The Registration of Electors and the Electoral Roll (Amardesh)
PDF : Preparing for the Election (Parliament) (Amardesh)
PDF : Voter Awareness (Amardesh)
PDF : Gender and the Electoral Process (Amardesh)
PDF : Training and Technology (Amardesh)
PDF : Poll and Count (Amardesh)
PDF : Code of Conduct, Prevention of Pre-Poll Irregularities and Election Petitions (Amardesh)
PDF : Post-Poll Appraisal (Amardesh)
PDF : Presentation on Electoral System in Bangladesh: Voter Registration Process
PDF : Phases of Electoral Roll Preparation
PDF : Voter Registration Form (Bangla)
PDF : Voter Registration Form (English)
PDF : Residing Officer Manual- A Guide for Polling Day Procedures – A training manual created by Electoral Training Institute, Election Commission Secretariat
PDF : Election Day Manual for Polling Agents
PDF : Counting Centre Quick Reference Guide