EC to launch campaign in Province 2 on August 17

  • voters’ education programme
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 6, 2017-

A month-long voters’ education campaign will be launched on August 17 with a specific focus on programmes in local language in Province 2 ahead of the local level elections scheduled for September 18, according to the Election Commission.

The third phase of local elections are scheduled to be held at 127 local units of eight districts in the province. Preference will be given to languages such as Maithali and Bhojpuri, which are widely spoken in the region during the voters’ education programmes, according to EC officials.

Nawaraj Dhakal, joint secretary at the EC, said that voters’ education campaign would be initiated with local languages-based education materials and education campaign on the radio and television would also be launched in local languages. “Local media will be heavily used compared to national media,” Dhakal said.

As well as mobilising around 3,500 volunteers on the door-to-door campaign, the EC is also conducting mock voting in all 127 local units. 

The election body said that additional efforts would be made during the campaigns in Province 2, considering high level of void votes in the first and second phases of local elections held in other provinces as well as the past trend of higher percentage of invalid votes in the districts under Province 2. The EC has faced criticism for high invalid votes despite spending as much as Rs170 million on the voters’ education campaign. 

According to the EC data, on an average 11.18 percent of the total votes cast in the first phase of local elections held in May 14 was invalid, with Lalitpur district topping the uneviable list with 17.1 percent. The second phase of local polls saw on an average 12.68 percent invalid votes, with Kapilvastu leading with 22.72 percent. 

Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa are the districts that fall under Province 2 where the rate of invalid votes were higher, compared to other districts in the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections 2008 and 2013. 

Of the 48 electoral constituencies in the eight districts, 17 had over 6 percent invalid votes in the second CA polls with Saptari-1 recording the highest at 7.89 percent in CA elections 2013.

In the 2008 CA polls, 40 constituencies had more than 6 percent invalid votes. While 7 percent invalid votes were common, Saptari-1 and Saptari-5 witnessed 9.22 percent and 9.21 percent invalid votes respectively. The nationwide average for invalid votes stood at 4.96 percent in the CA elections of 2013 and 5.15 percent in 2008.

Election experts point out the need for giving enough time for effective voters’ education programme because of large and complex ballot papers. 

“The first two phases of elections were held in rush and voters’ education programme could not be effective,” said Surya Prasad Sharma, chairperson of the National Election Observation Committee.

Published: 06-08-2017 07:42

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