Adopt Liberal Policy To Update Voters’ List

 

The Election Commission is going to launch a 15-day voters’ list update campaign across the country from today (Saturday) focusing the elections of the federal and provincial parliaments, which should be held before January 21, 2018 as provisioned in the Constitution.  The Election Commission that has proposed to conduct all the elections for provincial and the bicameral federal parliaments (House of Representatives and National Assembly) on three separate dates by the third week of November this year has announced voters’ list update campaign so that no eligible citizen will be deprived of universal adult franchise. All Nepali citizens aged above 18 are eligible to cast their votes during elections. According to the EC, the citizens have to visit the district headquarters to register their names in the voters’ list as the EC was not in a position to update the list from the newly created 744 local level units for various reasons. However, the two ruling parties, the Nepali Congress and the Maoist-Centre, have urged the EC to extend the drive for 30 days and make arrangements to send a team to the headquarters of each local unit to update the list. Two separate delegations of the two ruling parties met Chief Election Commissioner Dr Ayudhee Prasad Yadav the other day and urged him to conduct the campaign for a month from the headquarters of the local units. They also asked the EC officials to allow the citizens to register their names also away from their home districts.

The demands put forth by the two ruling parties to extend the voters’ list update drive and provide the facilities from the local units instead of district headquarters are relevant indeed considering the difficulties the citizens will face while visiting the district headquarters in the middle of monsoon. In many districts, the people have to walk for two to three days to reach the district headquarters. Moreover, during monsoon when the flooded rivers sweep away the temporary bridges and the rain waters damage the roads and foot trails, people won’t be able to walk to the district headquarters. As such, if a team of the EC goes to each local unit, the drive is sure to be more effective in registering the names of all the eligible voters. Yes, the EC may face shortage of manpower and tools to disperse its team to each local unit, but it can mobilise the same team in three or more local units. Normally, a district has four to 15 local units, and a team can cover at least five units if the campaign is run for a month. Five days will be enough to register the names of new voters of a local unit. Similarly, a large number of voters will be benefited if the demand that the citizens should be allowed to register their names from their work places away from their home districts is met. Many people were unable to cast their votes in the Constituent Assembly elections held in 2008 and 2013 and the local elections held recently due to the faulty provision of the voters’ list. As one was unable to register his name in the voters’ list away from home district without producing a valid landownership certificate issued from the work place, many people, especially employees, were unable to participate in these elections. At a time when many countries have already made arrangements for their citizens living abroad to cast the ballot during elections, the EC should adopt a liberal policy so that all eligible voters living within the country, if not overseas, can cast their vote in the elections from wherever they are.               

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