Many excited, some disheartened too
Casting their ballots in the 11th general election, first-time voters in Dhaka urged public representatives to work for peace, infrastructural development, and to build a corruption-free Bangladesh.
According to the DU Center for Genocide Studies (CGS), Peace Report prepared by the Bangladesh Peace Observatory (BPO) and the CGS as many as 12.1 million new voters will play a crucial role in determining the election outcome.
This fresh voting population has significant influence on both future trends and attitudes towards the nature of politics, the study said.
They further urged prospective representatives to work for the youth and listen to their suggestions and concerns about the development of the country.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Antor - a first-time voter said that she wanted the elections to be fair.
"I think the government should listen to young voters and take our suggestions into consideration when formulating policies," she added.
Fuad Mohammad Nur, a student of North South University who voted from the Dhaka 8 constituency, urged the government to improve the infrastructure of his area.
Fuad said: "I hope the person who gets elected from my constituency improves the drainage system in my area to prevent waterlogging—which is a serious problem for us in the area."
Speaking about his experience as a first-time voter, Prometheus, a Buet student said that he was satisfied with the voting process.
"The polling agents have been very helpful in guiding voters," he added.
Akhi Akhter, a voter at the Bangla Bajar High School, said she is very happy with the EVM system as the casting was easy and simple.
A BBA third year student Soheli Parvin, a voter registered with the Paikpara Staff Quarter High School, said it was a nerve racking to go to the polling centre for the first time.
"I have cast my first vote, and I could not believe it for a while. After casting my vote I was standing there and thinking ‘all completed without any hassle’. It was an amazing experience," she explained.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old, a garment floor supervisor, Masud Rana said: “We get a chance every five years but I got it after 23 years. So, you could understand the feelings and I am happy that I have cast my vote.”
Young voters disheartened too
Some first time voters, who went to the polling centres to cast their votes to elect their representatives, reported alleged intimidation too.
A 22-years-old voter who went to vote at the Government Shaheed Suhrawardi College centre from the Dhaka 13 constituency says she was not been able to cast her vote and was “asked to cast vote for a specific symbol.”
“I was asked to vote for a specified symbol and ready to cast vote. My mistake was asking the polling agents which symbol was participating in the election after which I was thrown out of the centre by a policeman,” she said, seeking anonymity.
Meanwhile, another voter, Nobel Hossain went to vote at the Dhaka Residential Model College said he did not receive any slip containing his voter serial number.
'When I requested the agents to find my voting number, they have asked to use the SMS method. I texted the EC assigned number, but did not get reply and could not vote in my first election,” he said.