Voting in by-election to Rangpur-3 constituency, which fell vacant after the death of Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad, has begun today.
Voting commenced at 9am and will continue till 5 pm without any break. The constituency has 442,072 voters – 221,310 men and 220,762 women.
The Election Commission (EC) has completed preparations for a smooth balloting using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Six candidates are vying for the seat but voters say it will be a close contest among Jatiya Party's Rahgir Al Mahi alias Saad Ershad, BNP's Rita Rahman and independent candidate Hossain Mokbul Shahriar Asif.
The other contestants are – NPP's Shafiul Alam (mango), Gano Front's Kazi M Shahidullah Bayazid (fish) and Khelafat Majlish's Towhidur Rahman Mandal (wall clock).
The ruling Awami League withdrew its candidate in support of the Jatiya Party contestant.
Rangpur Regional Election Officer and Returning Officer of the by-election GM Sahatab Uddin said they took all preparations to hold a free, fair and credible balloting.
Election materials were handed over to presiding officers on Friday.
The Election Commission has identified 49 out of the total 175 polling centers as important ones.
Sahatab said they have taken a four-tier security measure. Eighteen platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh, 20 teams of Rapid Action Battalion, 3000 police and Ansar members, 18 executive magistrates and four judicial magistrates will be in the field to maintain law and order, and ensure security and fend off any attempt to create an untoward incident.
"Law enforcers are playing an active role in ensuring a peaceful atmosphere so that voters can go to the polling stations freely and cast their votes without any hindrance. Stern action will be taken if anyone tries to intercept or intimidate voters," the returning officer warned.
3,244 election officials, including 175 presiding officers, 1,023 assistant presiding officers and 2,046 polling officers, are conducting the voting.
Deposed military dictator HM Ershad died on July 14. The Election Commission announced the schedule for the by-polls on September 1.
The Election Commission has a constitutional obligation to complete the by-polls within 90 days after it falls vacant.