Early counts show high vote wastage

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

May 17, 2017-Early counts suggest a dangerous trend of invalid votes in Sunday’s polls, with one in five ballots rejected in some places.

In Ramechhap Municipality, 10 out of 50 ballots were declared invalid for having stamps on more than one symbol in a single column and thumb prints.

A maximum of seven candidates are voted for in a single ballot paper. Some had stamped twice in the same box containing the symbol of the second open category ward member as it has double party symbol. But the Election Commission’s late decision to validate such double stamping has saved the votes from being rejected.

Gopal Krishna Shiwakoti, general secretary of the Nepal Election Observation Committee, who observed the vote in Kathmandu and Lalitpur metropolises, said the level of invalid votes was surprisingly high.

Where people voted for the same party candidates largely, invalidity of votes is not so high, officials said. In the first 900 votes for chairperson, only 20 turned to be invalid in Siddhalek Village Council of Dhading district. Many voted for the candidates of a single party, according to Election Officer Rajendra Bahadur Aryal.

The high rate of invalidity of votes is despite the poll authority exercising restraint while rejecting votes. For instance, the EC accepts a ballot if it is torn partly, while arranging the papers, without affecting the stamp.

The vote stands valid if the stamp touches a line of the box containing the symbol and when the stamp smears slightly on another symbol while folding the ballot paper.

“It is premature to predict the percentage of invalid votes but we expect it to

be from 5 to 6 percent,”

said Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal. In the 2013 CA elections, the percentage of invalid votes was 4.9.

In future, “we will focus on electronic voting which will be less complicated for voters,” said Commissioner Ila Sharma.

Published: 17-05-2017 07:53

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