Vote counting generally consistent with international standards: Carter Centre

Kathmandu, December 22

The Carter Centre today issued a post-election statement detailing its findings related to Nepal’s vote-counting process.

In its statement, The Carter Centre noted that in the counting centres where observers had sufficient access, counting took place in a manner that was generally consistent with

international standards, despite widespread deviations from established procedures. However, a considerable number of counting centres restricted Carter Centre observers’ access, limiting the transparency of the process.

These findings remain preliminary, pending the announcement of election results and the resolution of

any disputes. A final report that includes recommendations to help strengthen the conduct of future elections in Nepal will be published in early 2018, it said.

During the counting, Carter Centre observer teams were present in 27 districts throughout Nepal, including phase I and phase II districts.  The decision to hold the elections in two phases meant that ballot boxes from phase I needed to be stored for 10 days before being opened, creating the risk of ballot-tampering. But in phase I districts where Carter Centre observers were present, ballot boxes were safely secured and were under the close scrutiny of political party agents. Carter Centre observers reported no incidents related to the storage of phase I ballot boxes.

After phase I polling, the Election Commission of Nepal issued directives outlining official counting instructions. These were widely ignored, however, as most returning officers chose instead to work with political party agents to reach consensus on vote-counting procedures. In counting centres where Carter Centre observers were present, the deviations from the directives were intended to increase efficiency and avoid possible grievances and did not compromise the integrity of the count, read the statement.

Party and candidate agents were consistently present in the counting centres and followed the process closely. Party agents did not make substantive complaints about the conduct of counting in the centres where Carter Centre observers were present, it said.