Nepal | August 09, 2020

‘Government should start preparations immediately’

Enabling Nepalis Abroad To Vote

Roshan S Nepal
Share Now:

Kathmandu, September 25

If the government wants to enable Nepali citizens living abroad to vote in the next elections after four years as per the Supreme Court directive, it has to start preparations right away, given the challenges associated, experts have said.

A division bench of justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Purushottam Bhandari had on March 21 (full text on September 2) issued the directive to the government.

According to experts and stakeholders, the government should first formulate a law that would guide the whole process and address any possible complications that might arise in the process. They underscored the need for extensive consultations before devising the law, as complications could arise right from the start — voter registration.

Former Chief Election Commissioner Bhojraj Pokhrel said since voter registration was quite a sensitive issue in Nepal itself, it could be more challenging abroad where there were no party representatives.

“Also, registering Nepali labourers in the Gulf and Middle East could be more challenging if we consider voter registration through the internet as we can’t expect everyone to be internet savvy,” he said, adding, “And, not all might be able to visit our embassies if voter registration is done traditionally.”

As far as voting is concerned, various countries have employed various modalities such as postal voting, interned voting, and even traditional ballot boxes.

However, Pokhrel ruled out postal voting option given the poor status of postal service in Nepal. As far as internet voting is concerned, not all — especially migrant labourers — will be able to avail the facility. On top of that, security challenges such as hacking are also there. The third option of ballot papers and boxes is also not less complicated. A huge number of ballot boxes will be required as people hailing from various electoral constituencies in Nepal will be casting their votes abroad.

“Even if we use ballot boxes, only people living around our embassies and consular general offices will be able to vote as setting up booths beyond Nepal’s territory needs government-to-government negotiations,” said Pokhrel, adding sending political parties representatives, witnesses and observers to the booths on voting day could be another issue.

Therefore, all these issues should be addressed through legislation and parties should be magnanimous enough to come up with a clear and uniform opinion before formulating the policy, according to Pokhrel. “But the fact is the government should start the process right away if it wants to enable Nepalis living abroad to vote in the next elections,” he said.

Financial aspect is another matter of concern as countries that have implemented external voting have reported that the process is quite resource intensive. However, another former chief election commissioner Neelkantha Uprety said budget should not be an issue as it was the government’s responsibility to ensure voting rights of citizens in a democracy.

Uprety suggested phase-wise implementation, starting with a few countries and gradually expanding. He said different voting modalities could be used in different countries depending on the need and practicability. He also suggested pre-voting, post-voting and absentee-voting options that could be implemented.

“In countries like the US and Australia, we can use internet-based system for both voter registration and voting. And in countries like Malaysia where the majority of Nepalis are labourers, we can use traditional system,” he said. “But our embassies need to run an extensive campaign to make it a success.”  Upreti, however, agreed all these processes should be guided by legislation and the government should start preparations right away.

Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said the commission was ready to implement external voting system, but for that the government should first devise a law and allocate enough resources to the EC. “Our role begins only after the adoption of the law. But we are ready,” she said.

The home ministry, which is responsible for drafting the law, however, has not yet started the work. Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai said since they had yet to receive the Supreme Court’s directive orders, no work had been done on that front. “We will start work on law formulation once we receive the orders,” he said.


A version of this article appears in print on September 26, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Transitional Justice, court, justice, punishment, law

Judiciary: Public should maintain restraint on comments about court order/verdicts

We should not forget that it is the court that upholds justice, protect people's rights. Had the judiciary not been there, whatever the two powerful organs of the state — executive and legislature — wanted to happen, could happen. It is the judiciary that checks the excesses of the executive and Read More...

Coronavirus , vaccines, vaccines trails

Are we thinking about COVID-19 vaccines yet?

It is now clear that for Nepal, like every other country, vaccines are going to have a crucial role in getting rid of the COVID-19 pandemic. What are we doing to source a vaccine when it becomes available?  Many countries understand that every month’s delay in deploying vaccines for COVID-19 w Read More...

Parsa's Narayani Hospital records 55 new infections today

BIRGUNJ: As many as 55 persons, including the mayor of Bahudarmai Municipality, Parsa, have contracted Covid-19 in the last 24 hours. The newly infected persons are within the age group of 20 to 74 years. Eight among the 55 infected are females. Laboratory at Narayani Hospital confirmed the ne Read More...

PM calls for study on Ayodhyapuri

CHITWAN: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has called for study and research on Ayodhyapuri. On a telephone conversation with the chairperson of Madi Municipality-9, where Ayodhyapuri is located, he assigned the work to be carried out in coordination with the Department of Archaeology, on Friday. W Read More...

Nagasaki marks 75th A-bomb anniversary on Sunday

TOKYO: The city of Nagasaki in southern Japan marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing on Sunday. It was the second nuclear bomb dropped by the U.S. three days after the attack on Hiroshima. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II and nearly a half-century aggression agains Read More...

Flight data, cockpit voice recorders recovered from India plane crash site

NEW DELHI: The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of an Indian passenger aircraft crash in a southern state, a top official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation told Reuters on Saturday. Both "black boxes" have been found, the official said. Read More...

Lorenzo Soria, president of Golden Globes group, dies at 68

LOS ANGELES: Lorenzo Soria, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and former editor of the Italian news weekly L’Espresso, died Friday, the association said. He was 68. Soria died peacefully at his Los Angeles home, the association said in a statement, lauding his “generosity, Read More...

Gahanapokhari-Hadigaun area sealed amid surge in Covid-19 numbers

KATHMANDU: To check the spread of coronavirus, Gahanapokhari-Hadigaun area in the capital city has been partially sealed after tenants and landlords from the same building tested positive for the infection. Kathmandu Metropolitan City-5 ward chair Ramesh Dangol said that the area has now been sea Read More...