Polls on schedule hinge on court ruling on ballot papers: EC

Published On: October 18, 2017 04:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATMANDU, Oct 18: The Election Commission (EC) has said scheduled polls may be affected if the court orders to arrange different ballot papers as demanded by a writ petitioner for upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections. 

Election commissioners are worried whether the court orders the commission to arrange different ballot papers as demanded in the writ petition thereby forcing the election body to stop the ongoing ballot printing process and other poll preparations. 

"EC will not be able to conduct elections on scheduled dates if the court orders us to arrange four [separate ballot papers for parliamentary and provincial as well as first-past-the-post and proportional representation elections] different ballot papers. An estimated 70 million ballot papers need to be printed within the short span of time and additional election materials i.e. ballot boxes and poll screens will be required given that situation," said Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal adding, "This will make the scheduled polls uncertain."

Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav also said that the election body will be in a fix if the court changes ballot paper numbers. "We don't know the intention behind registering such a writ petition. Let's hope the court will not order otherwise," said CEC Yadav requesting not to seek further explanation or hypothetical answer. 

As part of conducting the parliamentary and provincial elections in two phases, the election body has already started printing the ballot papers. A single ballot paper has been designed for both parliamentary and provincial elections. If the court orders revision existing ballot papers the EC will have to print four ballot papers.

Concerns are growing within the EC and in political circles whether the government is trying to use the apex court as a last-ditch effort to defer the scheduled polls. Commissioner Dahal hoped the court will not issue order against poll preparations and scheduled elections will take place in time.

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