Ignorant voters in a remote Panchthar village in dire need of voting lessons

  • This time I do not know how many ballot papers there are. No one has told me

Phidim, Panchthar, November 21

With just five days remaining for the first phase of provincial and parliamentary elections, voters in a remote Panchthar village of Imbung said they didn’t know how to vote and complained that no one had come to their village to teach them how to vote.

Residents of Imbung, a remote village in Panchthar’s Falgunanda Rural Municipality-2, told THT that activists of political parties visited them almost daily carrying sample ballot paper, adding that they only told voters on which election symbol to vote, but didn’t tell them how to vote.

“During the local level elections there was only one ballot paper. They told us to vote for six candidates, so I voted six times on one election symbol,” said 76-year-old Ganga Prasad Nembang, who was attending an election rally organised yesterday by the left alliance, which was also attended by senior UML leader Subas Nembang. “This time I do not know how many ballot papers there are. No one has told me.”

Another local voter, Krishna Kumari Nembang, 72, said she cast her vote in the local-level elections as per the suggestion of her family, but added she did not know who won. “I had voted using ‘six fingers’ in the local level elections, but this time no one has taught me how to vote,” she said.

Some voters said they would vote for the party that gave them money. “But the problem is I do not know how to vote,” said Bhagiwant Nembang, 79.

Some others have already decided who to vote for, but said they did not know how many ballot papers there were and how to vote.

“I have heard that there is more than one ballot paper of different colours this time, but I have not seen any,” said Lal Bahadur Angdame, 65, adding that he did not know there were separate ballot papers for the first-past-the-post and proportional representation systems.

The district election office has deployed volunteers in all the parts of the districts after imparting training on November 11-12. However, the voters have complained that no one except political party cadres visited them.

District Election Officer Dhruba Kumar Rai said volunteers were doing their bit to train voters. “So far their reporting has been satisfactory, but they have yet to reach all parts of all the district.” He said volunteers were facing difficulties in imparting voter education due to difficult terrain and because villagers were mostly out in the fields.

He conceded that they had little time to make the voter education programme effective for the first phase of elections.