The recently concluded first phase of local elections have pointed to a marked need for voter education. The Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) has recognised that it is urgent to educate voters to ensure free, fair and credible elections. Making potential voters and stakeholders aware of their voting rights, and getting them to cast their votes properly and confidently is a continuous process. Much effort has been made to convince people to go cast their votes, but little has been done to make sure that they mark the ballot paper correctly. Consequently, an unexpectedly large number of invalid votes were found even in metropolitan areas.
During the last local election, voters appeared to be most confused by the way they had to choose their ward members. A single symbol has been assigned to one candidate and a double symbol to another candidate. There is no such problem with regard to independent candidates who each have their own separate symbols.
Similarly, some voters had marked the election symbol of non-existent candidates in constituencies where parties had agreed to give up posts to each other and not file nominations. The large size of the ballot paper and bewildering number of columns is certain to confuse voters during the second phase of local elections. Hence, electoral education is vital to minimise the number of invalid votes.
Full Article: The baffled voters – Oped – The Kathmandu Post.