Vote counting to start on December 7

Kathmandu, November 6

The Election Commission today said that counting of votes for the first phase of provincial and parliamentary polls slated for November 26 would begin after 5:00pm on December 7.

The poll panel, added that counting of second phase of elections slated for December 7 would start on the same day but after all ballot boxes of constituencies were brought to the offices of the respective chief returning officers or returning officers.

The first phase of elections will be held in 32 mountainous and remote hilly districts and the second phase will be held in 45 hilly and Tarai districts.

EC Commissioner Narendra Dahal told THT, “Chief returning officers and returning officers can start counting votes if all political parties agree for the same even if ballot boxes of some polling centres are on the way to counting centres.”

Dahal added that vote counting would be halted if re-polling was needed in some polling centres.

EC Information Officer Surya Prasad Aryal said ballot boxes of the first phase of elections would be kept under adequate security. “Nepal Police will provide security to ballot boxes. “Help of Nepali Army and Armed Police Force can be taken if political parties think it necessary,” said Aryal. He said agents of political parties would be allowed to guard ballot boxes. All ballot boxes would be kept in secure rooms and consensus would be forged whether all parties would place their own padlocks or single padlock of the EC.

He said political parties did not have to worry about the security of ballot boxes, as representatives of candidates sign the security seals and the same could be matched when counting of votes would begin. The EC said security seals carried unique numbers and could not be reused.

The EC will start counting votes of proportional representation elections only after counting of the first-past-the-post elections is over. He said adequate security measures would be adopted to mitigate risks of tearing of ballot papers.

Questions were raised about the security of ballot boxes after the second Constituent Assembly elections.

The CA had formed a probe committee to investigate alleged vote rigging.

“To ensure free, fair and impartial elections, we have suggested to let parties’ representatives guard ballot boxes, to strictly enforce election code of conduct and replace ballot boxes with electronic voting machines,” said Laxman Lal Karna, who was coordinator of the parliamentary  committee to probe rigging.