All Eyes On Vote Count

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Following the successful conducting of the elections to the House of Representatives and the Provincial Assemblies on Sunday (November 20), now the keen and curious attention of the nation is centred on counting of votes and results that pouring in. Vote counting has begun in most constituencies nationwide since late Sunday and early Monday morning. The political parties, their candidates, independent contestants and voters are now eagerly waiting for the poll results that determine the winners and losers on the basis of people's mandate expressed in the ballots. The Election Commission (EC) plans to announce all results of the federal and provincial legislatures under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system as well as the proportional representation (PR) category within eight days from the voting day. So, the election body has instructed the chief returning officers in all the districts to make sure that votes are counted in four different places alongside. The EC has taken this step as some ballots of HoR and provincial parliament were not dropped in the designated ballot boxes in some polling stations. Such mistakes were made due to carelessness on the part of some poll staff and voters. 

The election authority, therefore, has made necessary arrangements for counting all the ballot papers, including those dropped in the wrong ballot boxes, with the consent of the political parties, candidates and election representatives in order to ensure that the people’s votes are not overlooked. Though the polls were largely peaceful across the country, the voting process was disrupted in about three dozen polling stations of four districts — Bajura, Nawalparasi (East), Gulmi and Surkhet. Voting was postponed in 12 polling centres of Bajura. However, the EC has directed the authorities concerned to conduct re-polling in those centres by Tuesday. Earlier on Sunday, the commission had asked all returning officers not to suspend elections without having its approval. Meanwhile, an unfortunate incident took place in a polling station of Bajura where one person lost his life when police personnel opened fire. Three others were injured in the clash. They were reported to have been involved in disrupting the voting. 

According to the EC, necessary arrangements were in place to transport the ballot boxes from different far-lung areas of the mountain districts to their respective district headquarters by Monday afternoon. With favourable weather conditions, efforts were underway to collect the ballot boxes with the use of helicopters in mountain districts like Sankhuwasabha, Dolpa, and Taplejung. Vote counting in such districts is expected to start as soon as the ballot boxes arrive in the designated places. To prevent the possible untoward incidents while counting votes, the returning officers have adopted all the security measures. They have installed fences and barbed wires in places where votes are being counted. 

Although the polls were conducted in a free, fair and credible way, the voter turnout remained lower than the EC's estimate of 70 per cent. Preliminary reports issued by the election authority indicated that the voter turnout was about 61 per cent. One of the main reasons for the lower voter turnout could be the failure on the part of the political parties and candidates to convince the voters. During the local elections held in May this year, the voter turnout stood at 70.9 per cent. However, election observes deployed by the General Election Observation Committee (GEOC) Nepal have stated that the elections were conducted in a peaceful and systematic manner, with the exception of some sporadic incidents. They found an encouraging participation of people with physical disabilities, senior citizens and voters of different classes, communities and sexes in the polls. 

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