September 26, 2017 07:33 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Sept 26: The Election Commission (EC) is likely to take a few more days to declare the complete results of Province 2 elections, owing to frequent disputes over ballots and resource constraints.
Vote count is still underway for Rajbiraj Municipality of Saptari district, Kalaiya Sub-metropolitan City and Baragadi Rural Municipality of Bara district and Birgunj Metropolitan City of Parsa that went to polls together with other 132 local units of the plain-only province on September 18.
The slow vote counting has always remained a big issue due to a host of reasons including the use of paper ballot and unusually high number of candidates. It has emerged as a far bigger challenge due to the frequent disputes among poll candidates over ballots.
Almost one third of votes remain to be counted in Birgunj Metropolitan City where vote count started eight days ago. So far, a total of 61,643 votes have been counted in Birgunj Metropolis, the only metropolis in the province with over 84,000 voters.
“Whenever one party takes a lead, the rival parties come up with the demands for recount. In worse cases, they disrupt the counting process time and again,” said a returning officer stationed in Bara district.
According to the EC, winners have been declared in 132 local units until Monday evening. Till date, the Nepali Congress has been leading the polls table with victory in 38 local units. Trailing behind NC are the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (25), Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (24), CPN (Maoist Center) (21), UML (18) and Nepal Loktantrik Forum (3).
While disputes over ballot may be a reason, the paper-based voting and EC’s own inefficiency are other important reasons behind the delay. The use of ballot papers is time consuming as the ballot boxes have been assembled at a designated center before resuming counting in the presence of representatives of the candidates. The ballot papers have to be shown to the representatives of all candidates. Such traditional vote count requires a lot of staff.
“We have deployed additional teams of returning officers in the remaining units where the vote count is underway. It won’t take longer now,” said EC Spokesperson Nawaraj Dhakal. The EC mobilized 31,500 staffers excluding members of the security forces for poll purpose in Province 2.