SURKHET, May 16: Vote counting in Birendranagar Muncipality began at 2 pm, Monday. Hardly 100 votes could be counted by 5 pm. The main reason behind such a delay in vote counting is: the complicated ballot paper and rigidity of all political parties to count the votes at a single location.
Officials involved in counting votes say the decision of the Election Commission (EC) to use ballot paper consisting of unnecessary election symbols at local level has complicated the vote counting.
There are total 11 mayoral candidates in Birendra Nagar Muncipality. However, the ballot paper sent by the EC had 28 different election symbols for the post.
"The ballot paper is too big. The election symbols printed on it are small,” said Lal Bahadur Rana, who cast his vote at Siddha Bahira Center in Birendra Nagar. "This is the first time it took me such a long time to find the election symbols of the candidates of my choice on the ballot paper."
Altogether 13 political parties have registered with the EC in Surkhet district. While the ballot paper consists of election symbols of these parties till the 13th row, the remaining 105 rows consist of election symbols for independent candidates. Voters are forced to look across 96 boxes to find election symbols of seven candidates he or she is allowed to vote for.
"The main reason behind the delay in vote counting is the complicated ballot paper," said Chief Election Officer Kailash Prasad Subedi. "Also, there was some delay while collecting the ballot boxes."
The EC had initially planned to commence vote counting at five different places. But as the political parties denied the EC's proposal, the ballot boxes were transported to a single location. "If we continue vote counting in the way we are doing it will take around five days to announce the final result," Subedi said.
Officials from the EC Headquarters for monitoring the vote counting argue that the failure to properly manage vote counting was the large part of the problem.
Besides complicated ballot paper and EC's failure to take into account the number of poll candidates at the local level, the ink used by EC this time has also caused problems. The color of the election symbols on the ballot paper and the ink used for the voting stamp are both blue, making it difficult to locate the voting mark. “It is particularly difficult to count the votes in the night," said an employee deputed for counting votes.
Above all, voters' education is equally to be blamed for the delay in the vote counting. A large number of votes have been invalid as senior citizens and illiterate persons did not get proper voter's education.