Uncertainty clouds counting method

Kathmandu, January 17

The Election Commission and political parties have yet to decide the methodology of transferring surplus votes while counting ballots in the National Assembly election.

There are at least five methods of transferring surplus votes under the single transferable voting system that will be used in the National Assembly election.

Six NA members — three women and three from open category — will be elected using STV system, while two — one Dalit and one from differently-abled or marginalised groups — will be elected under the first-past-the-post system from every province. In case two contestants get equal number of votes, an EC staffer will use lucky draw to choose the winner.

EC Spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal told THT that the poll panel had proposed to use either last parcel method or Weighted Inclusive Gregory Method to transfer surplus votes to parties. The last parcel method was used in 1992 elections.

“There will be no significant difference in the result if any of the two methods we have proposed is used,” said Dhakal. He, however, said the EC had yet to take the final decision on the method to be used to transfer surplus votes.

According to Dhakal, the poll panel would take the decision on methodology with the consent ofparties. The EC has informed senior leaders of five political parties — CPN-UML, Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Centre, Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal — about the surplus vote transferring methods in yesterday’s meeting. UML leader Subas Chandra Nembang said leaders of political parties had asked EC officials to prepare guidelines and directives first before seeking their opinion on methodology to transfer surplus votes.

The NA election is slated for February 7. As many as 2,055 voters — 1,505 chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of local levels and 550 provincial assembly members -- will elect 56 NA members. One of the voters, Sankhuwasabha district’s Makalu Rural Municipality Chairman Khadka Katuwal was killed in a road accident on Sunday.

WIGM method

  • Weighted Inclusive Gregory Method is a scientific method used to transfer surplus votes polled in single transferable voting system. In this method, surplus votes are transferred in accordance with the ‘next available preferences’ marked on ballot papers by voters. If no candidate is marked as second preference, the votes s/he gets will be set aside as ‘non-transferable’.
  • While transferring votes, only surplus votes are transferred. This is done by calculating a ‘transfer value’ for each ballot paper. The transfer value represents the proportion of votes to be transferred.
  • The WIGM Transfer Value prescribed in Election Rules is calculated by multiplying surplus votes of the elected candidate with the current value of ballot paper, which is then divided by the total number of votes credited to the elected candidate. Transfer values are calculated up to five decimal places and any remainder is ignored. Under this rule, votes are not transferred to already elected candidates.