KATHMANDU, Oct 24: Thousands of government officials deployed for poll duty are likely to be unable to vote in the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections slated for November and December.
The Election Commission (EC), the body authorized to conduct the elections, said some legal and administrative hurdles have posed a serious challenge in allowing voting by poll officers and security personnel to be deployed on poll duty from Nepal Police, the Armed Police Force, the National Investigation Department, the Nepal Army and the temporary police.
EC officials estimate that around 200,000 civil servants will be deployed as election officials for the elections slated in two phases. In addition, a large number of security personnel will also be deployed for the elctions. The Ministry of Home Affairs plans to hire 100,000 temporary police for the polls while the number of security personnel on poll duty from the police is said to be over 100,000.
Security personnel and civil servants deployed during the first and second Constituent Assembly elections held in 2008 and 2013 respectively were able to vote under the proportional representation category.
EC Spokesperson Navraj Dhakal said some legal and administrative hurdles may now affect their participation in the polls. "The existing voter roll act has not envisioned absentee voters," said Spokesperson Dhakal adding, "Even if they are allowed to vote under the PR category this will not work in the case of the provincial assembly polls," said Dhakal.
Spokesperson Dhakal informed that the existing voting law has a provision requiring one to reach one's respective home constituency to vote. "That's why we are mulling whether to introduce absentee voter rolls. Let's see how the EC decides over this," he said.