JHAPA, May 27: In the second Constituent Assembly election, nearly eight percent of the total votes were found invalid in Jhapa. Analysts had then condemned the lack of adequate education for voters. Now, with just 19 days left for the second phase of local elections, which will take place in several parts of the country including in Jhapa, locals are worried over the 'complex' voting process. Voters' education, which is a very essential part of elections, has not been given much attention, they complain.
“It is the most sensitive part of election. Voters need to be fully guided ahead of the election so that they can rightly elect their representatives. However, this part has remained neglected this time as well,” noted Bodhraj Subedi, a local of Jhapa. “Moreover, this time, it is going to be complex due to the new structure. Even the results of the first phase of the elections have shown it,” added Subedi, a retired government officer.
According to Subedi, not taking the issue seriously is injustice to the public. “When a single vote goes invalid, it makes a big difference let alone huge percentage of vote being cancelled,” he stated.
With the election date getting closer, election campaigns are becoming intense in all four provinces. Few people are actually concerned on 'how to vote' but are more focused on who to vote for.
Binita Bishwas runs a small 'paan' stall in Chandragadi, Jhapa. When asked whether she knows well how to cast vote, she said no. She told that nobody has taught her how to vote.
“They came to our door asking for vote, but nobody discussed about the voting process. People say it is bit difficult this time and I do not know how to vote,” Bishwas said, despite being a literate.
The Election Commission's report says that 7.3 percentage of votes turned invalid in Jhapa in the second Constituent Assembly election held on November 19, 2013. A total of 454,776 votes were cast in Jhapa then. Similarly, in the first Constituent Assembly election, 21,665 votes had been invalid out of the total 372,924 votes.
This time, there are 510,216 registered voters in Jhapa. The Election Commission has deployed 337 volunteers for voters' education.
“Voters' education should have been made more effective by using all media or whatever medium available. If voters are not well aware of handling ballot paper, what is the use?” he questioned.