EC likely to bar party reps from touching ballot papers
Kathmandu, June 22
The Election Commission is planning to prohibit representatives of political parties from touching ballot papers during vote counting.
EC Secretary Gopinath Mainali said the polls panel was yet to take a formal decision on the matter. “We are yet to take a decision in this regard, but we must prohibit representatives from touching ballot papers to prevent recurrence of the Bharatpur incident,” he said in reference to the tearing of 90 ballot papers by CPN-Maoist Centre representatives on May 29.
Mainali said the next meeting of EC office bearers could take a formal decision to prohibit representatives of political parties from touching ballot papers during vote counting.
According to Mainali, the EC commissioners had discussed several alternatives to prevent a similar incident. He said the polls panel would not be able to prevent similar incidents if it did not prohibit representatives of political parties from touching ballot papers.
EC Commissioner Narendra Dahal said the EC would direct concerned agencies to put in place proper security measures to prevent such incidents. He said the EC would direct the officials to keep representatives of political parties at a certain distance so that they could not tear the ballot papers.
“Employees deployed in vote counting would show the ballot papers to those representatives from certain distance to verify votes,” said commissioner Dahal.
According to Dahal, there is no provision under the existing law that allows representatives of political parties to touch ballot papers. He said the EC would do its best to prevent an incident similar to Bharatpur’s.
Police had arrested two CPN- Maoist Centre representatives deployed for vote counting in Bharatpur Metropolitan City-19 for allegedly tearing ballot papers after seeing their mayoral candidate Renu Dahal trailing CPN-UML’s candidate Devi Prasad Gyawali.
The EC had decided to hold re-election there, but the Supreme Court issued a stay order to maintain status quo on the commission’s decision and asked the commission to submit its original decision to hold re-election and torn ballot papers to the court.