EC plans longer gap between schedule and election day
The Election Commission is planning to keep more time between the announcement of the national polls schedule and the polling day, so that it can complete its work more smoothly.
The commission is mulling a gap of 60 to 70 days between the two dates, up from a gap of 40 to 52 days kept during the last two elections.
Top EC officials said widening the gap would give officials concerned more time to scrutinise nomination papers, complete the process of withdrawal of candidacies and dispose of appeals against scrapping of nomination papers.
EC sources said the commission is planning to announce the schedule for the 12th Jatiya Sangsad polls by the first week of November.
Increasing the time gap between the polls schedule and the election day would also allow the maximum number of foreign observers to monitor the elections after the Christmas vacation, said EC officials.
"The commission is holding discussion on how it can keep more time between the announcement of the polls schedule and the voting day," Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Ahsan Habib Khan told The Daily Star.
The EC plans to give four to five days to returning officers to scrutinise nomination papers. Usually, the officers get just one day to do the job.
During the 2018 national elections, a total of 3,056 nomination forms were submitted.
The commission is likely to give at least seven days for settling the appeals against scrapping of nominations by returning officers. The chief election commissioner and the four other commissioners hear the appeals. The appellants are allowed to have lawyers.
Ahead of the 2018 election, the EC had settled 543 appeals in just three days.
Candidates usually get only one day to withdraw candidacy. The EC is also planning to give them more time for withdrawal.
"If the returning officers have more time, it will help them perform their duties more efficiently. Having more time for disposing of appeals against scrapping of nomination papers means the officials will be in no haste to make decisions," said Ahsan Habib.
He said that the EC would announce the polls schedule only after making final decisions on these issues.
Asked when the EC will declare the polls schedule, he said, "We will announce the schedule in due time. We are making sincere efforts to ensure that the elections are participatory."
Officials, however, said if the time gap between the announcement of the schedule and the voting day is increased, the EC will have to keep an eye on law and order for an extended period.