KATHMANDU, Dec 14: The rise in a number of invalid votes has piled up pressure on the Election Commission (EC) to overhaul its ineffective voter education program, for which the election body spends billions of rupees.
Districts including Khotang, Palpa and Baglung among others recorded a high number of invalid votes during the recent elections. While Khotang saw a total of 26,168 invalid votes, the number of invalid votes in Palpa was 5,000. Likewise, Baglung registered a total of 4,225 invalid votes.
Out of the total 125,108 votes cast in Khotang, the district election office has reported 18,405 invalid votes under proportional representation (PR) category and 7,781 invalid votes under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system.
As per the final poll results announced on Wednesday morning, parliamentary elections has 7,859 invalid votes while provincial elections under PR category has 10,546 invalid votes, according to the office of the chief returning officer.
Khotang's Chief Returning Officer Kishor Ghimire said that the district recorded 11.06 percent of the total votes as invalid in the parliamentary polls under PR category and 14.8 percent in the provincial polls under PR category.
Under the PR category, some voters were found to have stamped for over two parties while they were supposed to vote for only one. Likewise, the stamps have touched outside of the designated box in ballot papers, while some voters have used thumb instead of stamps, according to staffers deployed for vote counting.
“Inefficient voter education is one reason. The other reason is the electoral collusion formed between various parties, which confused the voters and led to more number of invalid votes,” said Kumar Acharya, UML's vice-secretary of in Khotang.
Palpa has a total of 181,255 registered voters, out of which 67.88 percent exercised their voting rights.
In Palpa, as many as 4,604 votes were invalid in the polls under PR category.
In Baglung, out of 108,931 votes in the district, 2.87 percent votes or 4,225 votes were counted invalid.
According to Shyam Kumar Thapa, information officer at the District Election Office, Baglung, constituency 2 has had a higher number of invalid votes as compared to constituency 1 while more votes were invalid under the PR category compared to FPTP category.
“Perhaps many people couldn't get voter education due to a short time. That could be one of the reasons for a high number of invalid votes,” he added.
(Republica correspondents Daman Rai from Khotang, Mukti Prasad Neupane from Palpa and Sangam Gharti Magar from Baglung contributed to this report)