vote virgins

with the support of a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous, i conducted a small survey of first-time voters in bangladesh. the survey was conducted from november 4 to november 23, 2006, and covered a sample of 10,000 young first-time voters. the sample consisted primarily of students of various private universities, with some public university and college students thrown in. the survey was based in dhaka. respondents were asked whether or not they would be voting or not. i’m not delving into the methodology here, because it will take up too much space. however, enough safeguards were used to ensure the validity of the data collected.

at the outset, before i delve into the results, i would like to offer up some caveats. first, the sample is in no way large enough to be comprehensive and is not designed to present a picture of the majority of first-time voters. instead, it is confined specifically to those who are undertaking tertiary education, in order to provide a picture of what this group of citizens actually thinks.

secondly, as this research was conducted early in the tenure of the current caretaker government, the events we have seen occuring over the past few months has little to no effect on the mindsets of the respondents. although respondents were only asked if they would be voting this time around, we have tried to limit the impact of the current political climate on the responses. for this reason, the team actively avoided surveying those who were already politically aligned within their institutions.

finally, this survey was not designed to find out who the respondents would vote for: complexities including privacy issues and additional administrative permission from the institutions clearly meant that such an analysis would be impossible given the timeframe and budget of the research.

what, then, should this data be used for? the reason i was interested in conducting this research was because of a hypothesis that i had developed – that educated people were growing increasingly sick and tired of the political stalemate arising out of choosing between two major parties and the current political climate, and that they were becoming apathetic regarding their right to vote. while the results do not overwhelmingly support this hypothesis, they should be indicative of a general trend in this direction.

now, on to the much-awaited results!

  • of those surveyed, 57.42% indicated that they would not be voting in the upcoming elections. the remaining 42.58% indicated that they would be voting in the upcoming elections.
  • 27.93% of those who said they would not be voting aren’t or aren’t sure whether they are registered as voters.
  • 12.76% of those who said they would be voting aren’t or aren’t sure whether they are registered as voters.
  • 12.82% of the first-time voters who are not certain if they are registered as voters said that, if they were, they would vote in the coming election. the remaining sample said that they would not vote even if they were registered.
  • only 2.57% of those who said they would not vote said that the implementation of awami league’s electoral reform demands would make them willing to vote.

i realize these results aren’t groundbreaking, but should be a good indication of the way people are beginning to think in bangladesh today.

sorry for the delay in posting these, but it was quite difficult to get permission from the sponsor to post these until they had checked the data for themselves.

also, for the regular readers, sorry for the huge gap in postings. i’ve been spending most of my free time with a family member who was very sick, but that ended with his death last night. regular transmission should resume shortly.


  1. Disheartening news for a young nation like BD where the first time voters are the ones who would shape the future. Those unwilling to go to the poll – did they say why they were not interested in their govt? Is it the disregard towards the politicians or the system or is it that they are too busy downloading mp3s or sipping coffee with friends at late nights?

  2. There is no need to be apologetic about the sample size. It is huge. Your survey provides important information about how students in Dhaka are thinking.

    However, given that the survey was restricted to a particular demographic strata you probably cannot generalise to result to the group of first-time voters as a whole.

    Please publish your good work in newspapers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *