National

First vote in rainy season fraught with challenges

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Jun 5, 2017-

The Election Commission may face a number of challenges in holding the second phase of local elections on June 28 as the polls have been scheduled, for the first time, in the middle of monsoon.

Since February 18, 1959, when the country held its first general elections, no polls have been held in the rainy season. Elections have always been conducted in May, November and April.

According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division, monsoon sets in Nepal in the next 3-4 days. Possible landslides and flooding can prevent voters from reaching the polling centres. As this is also the season for paddy transplantation, work in the fields can cause low voter turnout.

In the first phase of local level elections held on May 14, the turnout was 74 percent. Despite odds, EC officials hope voter participation may not come down significantly considering the public excitement for voting in the local elections not held for 20 years.

Rains can make delivery of election materials, which are currently at the District Election Offices, difficult as the polling day nears. There is also the risk of the materials getting wet and damaged during delivery.

Setting up polling booths and providing security there could be difficult in cases of heavy rain.

“People who get wet may spoil the ballot while voting if proper care is not taken,” said Dolakh Bahadur Gurung, former acting chief election commissioner.

The June 14 election was rescheduled for June 23 and later for June 28 for accommodating the Ratriya Janata Party-Nepal, the newly united party of six Madhes-based forces.

Former chief election commissioner Surya Prasad Shrestha said the government and the parties did not care about easing the conditions for voters and the candidates while fixing the election date.

According to the Election Commission Act, the government determines the poll date in consultation with the election authority.

He recalled that the commission had declined to hold the second Constituent Assembly elections in June-July, when the government had come up with such proposal, due to the rainy season.

The CA elections were then held on November 19, 2013.

EC officials said they have the compulsion of holding the elections in the wet season as the government had already taken the decision.

EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma admitted the risk of potential lower voter turnout if it rained heavily on the polling day.

“We have instructed the District Election Offices and election offices to wrap the election logistics in plastic and make arrangements for keeping them safe from rainwater” he added.

 

History of elections in Nepal

Date                                      Election type

February 18, 1959               General Election

May 2, 1980    Referendum

May 12, 1991     General Election

May 28, 31, 1992    Local Election

November 15, 1994    Mid-Term General Election

May 17, 26, 1997    Local Election

May 3, 17, 1999    General Election

April 10, 2008    Constituent Assembly Election

November 19, 2013    Constituent Assembly Election (II)

May 14, 2017    Local Elections (Phase I)

June 28, 2017    Local Elections (Phase II)

Published: 05-06-2017 08:46

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