There are 3663 voters registered under Hamidchar Govt Primary School centre, which is a dedicated centre for female voters, at Chandgaon of Chattogram town.

A mere 62 votes were cast at the centre from 8:00am to 4:00pm.

Ruling Awami League's electoral symbol 'boat' received 61 votes while National Peoples' Party (NPP) candidate Kamal Pasha got one vote. The percentage of votes is 1.69.

At the AL Khan High School in Mohra area, which is another polling centre dedicated for female voters, only 1.88 per cent of votes were cast.

There are 2,924 voters in this centre and only 55 votes were cast.

These are the two centres with the least number of votes cast in the by-elections of Chattogram-8 (Boalkhali-Chandgaon).

Two to five per cent of votes were cast in 21 centres while over five per cent but below ten per cent of votes were cast in 52 polling stations.

As per estimation, less than 10 per cent of votes have been cast in 75 centres.

An analysis done on the results of centre-based votes cast in the by-election held on Thursday gives out this picture.

However, the election commission estimated the casting of votes was 14.55 per cent as a total of 75,305 votes were cast in all voting centres.

Except for the law enforcing agencies, the election commission has spent about Tk 25 million for holding this election. The expenditures include honorarium for election officials, training, vehicle costs and EVM.

The constituency, which comprises five wards of Chattogram city and Boalkhali upazila, fell vacant after the death of MP Moslemuddin Ahmed on 5 February.

Five candidates contested the election. Awami League candidate Noman Al Mahmud won the election bagging 67,205 votes. Four candidates lost their deposit.

Low turnout at city  centres

Of 3,320 votes, only 92 voters cast their votes at CDA Public School and College, a centre for women's voters.

Standing for two hours in front of this centre on the election day, Thursday, it was seen that the presence of voters was thin. However, a large number of leaders and activists were present outside the centre throughout the day. The casting of votes in this centre is 2.77 per cent.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, presiding officer Sumon Kumar Dey said a total of 10 votes were cast in the first two hours and the total vote cast stands at 92.

The low turnout centres are at Chandgaon and Panchlaish thana area.

About the matter, Chandgaon ward councillor Md Esrarul Alam said, "There are many RMG workers in my area. They have not returned yet. Moreover, women voters are reluctant to cast votes. There was low turnout of voters as the contesting candidate was weak."

Of 190 candidates, a total of 45,462 votes were cast in 78 centres. The voting rate was over 24 per cent. A total of 29,843 votes, that is 9 per cent, were cast in 112 centres in the city.

Awami League-nominated candidate's chief election agent and city unit Awami League general secretary AJM Nasir Uddin said there are several reasons for low turnout of voters in the city. One reason is people have little interest in the by-election. Another reason is many people have not returned after the Eid holiday. Many floating people have changed their addresses.

Four candidates lost deposit

 Of five candidates, four lost deposits in the election. The nearest candidate was Islami Front's Shehab Uddin Muhammad Abdus Samad (symbol Candle). He got 5,087 votes. Deposit is lost if a candidate does not get one-eighth of cast votes in the election.

As per the estimation, Islamic Front's SM Farid Uddin (electoral symbol), NPP candidate Kamal Pasha (Mango) and independent candidate Ramzan Ali (Ektara) lost deposit.

About the matter, Shehab Uddin Muhammad Adbus Samad said, "This is an unacceptable election. Votes were cast grabbing the voting centres. Their supporters were in the secret booths. Two to three per cent of votes have been cast in the city while at best 7 per cent of votes have been cast in the villages. But it is estimated that 14 per cent of votes have been cast. How so many voters were estimated?"

About the allegation, returning officer Muhammad Hasanuzzaman said, "We did not notice people in the secret rooms. However, the turnout of voters was low. In the by-election of the same constituency in 2020, the turnout of voters was 22 per cent."

When asked about the low turnout of voters, Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said democracy is the consent of the people. Some 14 per cent of voters have given their consent while 86 per cent of voters expressed their no-confidence.

This shows no confidence in the electoral process and related institutions, Badiul Alam said adding a change has to be carried out in the electoral process for establishing a constitutional rights in the true sense.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.