Poll observers point to lack of voter education

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 18, 2017-

Half of the country voted on Sunday to elect local representatives, making the elections historic for two particular reasons--local elections were held after a gap of 20 years and they were first under the new constitution.

As vote counting continues with officials saying it could take several days before all the results are out, there are some takeaways for all.

With a 73 percent voter turnout, according to the EC estimates, the first phase of elections was largely successful. However, some glitches and mistakes are now being pointed out, which could be a lesson for all for future elections.

One of the major issues that has been widely discussed after the elections is invalid votes. 

According to orgnaisations that observed the polls, there was a lot of confusion among voters, largely due to a lack of voter education programmes. 

With an unprecedentedly huge ballot paper and dozens of electoral symbols, many voters faced a tough time while voting. The ratio of invalid votes will be known only later, but there are speculations that the number of votes declared illegitimate could be very high. The EC also believes that the number of invalid votes could be high. 

Releasing a preliminary report on Wednesday, National Election Observation Committee (Neoc), General Election Observation Committee (Geoc) and Sankalpa, the organisations which observed Sunday’s polls, said people were not quite acquainted to the ballot papers. The observers have also noted limited time allotted for voter education programmes. 

However, there are some positive takeaways. 

Despite obstructions, a long spell of uncertainty and limited time, the EC managed to conduct the polls successfully, said the observers. A good voter turnout and high number of women’s participation are also some encouraging signs, said the observers. “While women participation in the elections was quite encouraging, an inclusive approach was visible when it came to staffing the polling centres,” said Lily Thapa, chairperson of Sankalpa.

As far as security was concerned, around a dozen incidents of violence were reported. Four deaths were reported. 

Security agencies were more reactive than proactive, said Himalaya Shumsher Rana, chairperson of Geoc. “Security agencies should focus on intelligence gathering to prevent untoward activities,” he said. 

The first phase of elections was held on Sunday in 34 districts of Provinces 3, 4 and 6 to elect representatives in 283 local units.

Published: 18-05-2017 08:51

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