The Kathmandu Post, 17th May 2017, Kathmandu
An unprecedentedly huge ballot paper and dozens of electoral symbols have made vote counting after Sunday’s first phase of local level elections a difficult and lengthy affair, with officials saying it could take several weeks for the results to be out. In the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, where there are around 280,000 registered voters, over 195,000 votes were cast, according to the Election Commission estimates of 70 percent voter turnout.
If at least two minutes are allocated for each ballot paper, it will take around 391,028 minutes (271 days) to complete the counting. This is the calculation when vote counting is done from one ward only.
Vote counting for the Kathmandu Metropolitan City began on Monday afternoon. Tuesday onwards, votes from three wards were being counted. But by 8pm on Tuesday, fewer than 200 votes were counted. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, general secretary of Nepal Election Observation Committee, who observed vote counting for the Kathmandu Metropolitan City on Monday evening and night, said officials were taking at least two minutes to count votes of one ballot paper. But, if any candidate or representative of a candidate wanted to a recount, officials had to spend more time on a single ballot paper.
Counting takes even a longer time if a voter has voted for different candidates of different parties. A voter can vote for a maximum of seven candidates.
“On top of that, the electoral symbols are printed in blue and the ink the voters were given to use to stamp is also blue. This has made the process even more time consuming,” said Siwakoti. The Election Commission, however, said it is but natural to take more time to count votes as one voter votes for a maximum of seven candidates.
It also accused political parties and candidates of raising insignificant issues, delaying the process. “We have instructed chief election officers and election officers to manage vote counting teams as per the requirement,” said a senior official at the EC.
The EC, however, hopes that the counting process will get faster in coming days as representatives of those candidates who secure less number of votes will start leaving the counting locations.