I personally applaud the new decision as it would be difficult and confusing to cast two votes on a single ballot paper. -- Neel Kantha Uprety, former chief election commissioner
KATHMANDU, Oct 30: The Election Commission (EC) is preparing to print two separate ballot papers for upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system.
After the Supreme Court (SC) submitted a letter to the election body seeking the progress report on printing separate ballot papers on Saturday, election commissioners have decided to print separate ballot papers for the parliamentary and provincial elections under the FPTP system. "We have taken the court order positively. We are still discussing the issue and will come up with a decision soon," said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.
Election commissioners had consulted legal experts and senior officials at the commission before deciding about printing separate ballot papers.
Based on the previous agreement made among the political parties, the EC had accommodated two ballots papers--one for parliamentary and another one for provincial assembly--into a single sheet of paper.
On one ballot paper, the FPTP ballot for parliament is designed on the top of the sheet while the FPTP ballot for provincial assemblies is printed at the bottom of the same sheet. Similarly, under the Proportional Representation (PR) category, the ballot for parliamentary polls is printed on the top while the ballot for provincial assemblies is printed at the bottom on the same sheet.
The printing of ballots for PR category has already been completed and the election body had started to print ballots as designed earlier, with both the ballots on a single sheet of paper.
But the EC, which had started to print ballot papers under FPTP from Friday, has now stopped the printing of ballots. "Most probably, the commission will furnish response to the court in writing on Monday and the decision to use two separate ballot papers [under FPTP system] will be made public to the public," said an election official informed about the development, adding, "We will move ahead in accordance with the letter and spirit of the court order.
The decision to go for two separate ballot papers, according to the official, was not disclosed on Sunday itself as disclosing such information to the public without furnishing the letter to the court is considered tantamount to contempt of court.
The official, who requested anonymity, said commissioners are committed not to defer the scheduled elections at any cost.
Following its understanding to print separate ballot papers, the EC needs to print 34.8 million ballot papers for FPTP elections.
Election experts have welcomed the decision to use two separate ballot papers in the direct elections. "I personally applaud the new decision as it would be difficult and confusing to cast two votes on a single ballot paper," said former Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety adding, "EC may face some technical difficulties to complete printing on time. But the work won't be difficult if they use private sector printing firms by ensuring foolproof security."