Kathmandu, July 4
About 20 per cent votes cast in Kathmandu Metropolitan City were found invalid, which is the highest among the 283 local levels where the first phase of local level elections took place on May 14.
According to the Election Commission, 19.43 per cent votes cast in KMC were invalid. There are 279,305 eligible voters in KMC.
The polls panel also said that the overall invalid vote percentage of the entire district was the second highest as 16.23 per cent of the total votes cast in the district were invalid. There are 10 municipalities, including KMC, in Kathmandu district, which has over 557,000 eligible voters.
Likewise, 19.04 per cent votes cast in Lalitpur Metropolitan City were invalid. The EC said 17.06 per cent votes cast in Lalitpur district were invalid, which is the highest among the 34 districts where civic polls were held in the first phase.
Of the total votes cast in Manang district, 7.02 per cent were found invalid. Similarly, 11.50 per cent votes were found invalid in Jumla district. Compared to other districts, where the first phase of civic polls were held on May 14, Manang and Jumla districts are the remotest.
Similarly, 8.9 per cent votes cast in Lekhnath Metropolitan City of Kaski district were found invalid. The EC said only 5.2 per cent votes cast in Chitwan district were found invalid, which is the lowest among the 34 districts.
Experts blamed poor voter education and large size of ballot papers for high rate of invalid votes.
Former Chief Election Commissioner Surya Prasad Shrestha blamed the EC for high percentage of invalid votes. He said the EC did not have much time to educate voters in the first phase of civic polls. “Voters were also confused due to the large size of ballot papers,” said Shrestha.
Bhawani Prasad Kharel associated with National Election Observation Committee said voter turnout in big cities like Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and others were also low compared to local levels in remote districts.
Information Officer at EC Surya Prasad Aryal said the EC did not have much time to launch voter education program in the first phase of elections. He conceded that even volunteers deployed by the EC could not reach every voter in the big cities like KMC and LMC due to which voter education could not be effective.
“A lot of voters reside in apartments and housing colonies where our volunteers could not reach,” added Aryal.
A version of this article appears in print on July 05, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.