Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury explains the process by which the Bangladesh Army created an electronic voter registration process and electronic electoral roll with photographs. The Electoral Commission chose the Army for this task out of various national and international organizations who submitted offers. He describes several capabilities that the Army brought to the task, including several officers with information technology (IT) skills and the ability, with the Navy and Coast Guard, to reach geographically remote communities. One challenge he identifies was finding and training staff with the necessary IT skills and acquiring the necessary technological resources, such as laptops, cameras, and finger print scanners. To address this need within a short time frame, he explains that the army sought out a number of vendors and occasionally accepted assistance from United Nations Development Project (UNDP). Chowdhury describes how the Army developed software to collect the voters’ information and identify multiple registrations by maintaining the registry. He explains the verification processes for the voter registry, including local government authentication of data and review by the Department for International Development (DFID) and UNDP.
At the time of this interview Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury was serving as the project director for the Election Commission’s voter list project. The project, formally known as the Preparation of Electoral Roll with Photographs, began in 2007. He came to this position as a Brigadier General in the Bangladesh Army.