Print Edition - 2017-05-11  |  Local Elections

Many voters in Surkhet say they don’t know how to vote

- PRAKASH ADHIKARI, SURKHET
District Election Office says 240 facilitators were mobilised for voter education, but many voters say the election officials have not reached their areas

May 11, 2017-Many voters in Surkhet do not know how to cast their votes.  They say the election officers did not visit their areas for voter education, though the District Election Office claim that 240 facilitators were mobilised throughout the district for voter education.

Although some political parties have incorporated voter education programme in their election campaign, the coverage is limited and a large number of people, even after being taught how to stamp the ballot, seem confused by the number of officials they have to pick.

“It is particularly hard for the elderly people. They are unable to comprehend the idea of marking seven election symbols representing different candidates for different posts,” said Maina Shahi, a ward member candidate for Nepali Congress.   

   Nanda Bhandari, the ward chairperson candidate for Birendranagar-6 from CPN-UML, said he, too, has been teaching the voters how to  their cast votes using 

mock ballots, but with little luck.  

“The people are finding the concept of voting in the local elections challenging. Voter education among rural areas is dismal,” he said. 

In the last two elections of the Constituent Assembly, the voters had a simple 

option of picking one lawmaker, but the local elections will require them to pick seven officials. This has caused a widespread confusion and increased the chance of 

high number of invalid votes getting cast.

In a mock election con-ducted by a local NGO in six wards of Birendranagar on Tuesday, 50 percent of votes were counted invalid. 

Chandra Dhakal of Birendranagar-8 said she was aware about the upcoming elections but do not know how it was different from the last two Constituent Assembly elections. 

“No one has come to teach us,” said the 73-year-old. She knows the names of a few political parties and that is as far as she knows about elections. Sunita Thapa, the District Election Office chief, said they could not conduct door-to-door voter education campaign due to time limitations.

“Besides, it is also the responsibility of the political parties to educate the voters,” she said. 

Published: 11-05-2017 08:12

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