As Bangladesh gears up for its first parliamentary elections in seven years on 29 December, the first ever computerized photo voter list in the south Asian country containing pictures of more than 80 million people is now complete after taking 11 months to compile with United Nations help.
An independent audit of the list by the Washington-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has concluded that the list was compiled with a “high degree of accuracy,” and no ‘ghost voters’ were found, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in a statement today.
“The upcoming election represents an historic opportunity for Bangladesh in re-establishing democracy,” UN Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien said. “We are pleased that the current voter list has passed the scrutiny of an independent team of auditors because a credible voter list is an essential ingredient for all free and fair elections.”
The new roll was designed by the Bangladesh Election Commission, with support from the Bangladesh Army and financial assistance from UNDP, Denmark, the European Commission, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
UNDP also provided technical and logistical support for the creation of the roll. Preparation for the digital voter list required over 10,000 laptops, digital cameras and finger print scanners, all aimed at creating a fraud-proof voter roll.
“In comparison with assessment of voter lists created during previous voter registration efforts in Bangladesh, the voter list for the December 2008 election has effectively registered the universe of eligible voters in Bangladesh, and accomplished this with a great deal of accuracy in capturing the particulars for individual voters,” the audit concluded.