It is still not sure whether there will be local elections in May. But if that happens, it might not just be the first local polls in 20 years but also be the first opportunity to introduce electronic voting across the country.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal visited the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday and learnt about the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in upcoming elections (pic, above).
“Local polls are possible in May,” he said, “and Nepalis have already become smart enough to vote electronically. If they can use mobile phones in rural villages, why can they not use voting machines?”
The EC has approached Smartmatic, a UK-based company, to buy EVMs. On Tuesday, a representative of Smartmatic showed PM Dahal how its voting machines can be used.
“Smartmatic is just an option,” the EC’s information officer Surya Prasad Aryal told Nepali Times. “We are also exploring other companies that can deliver affordable and reliable voting machines in time.”
Previously, the EC had bought a few hundred EVMs from India, which were used in Constituency 1 of Kathmandu in the first Constituent Assembly elections in 2008. They were also used in the by-elections of the second Constituent Assembly elections.
But the Indian EVMs can no longer be used because they cannot process more than 64 candidates. For the local polls, as many as 111 political parties have already registered themselves at the EC.
The EC is assessing if it is possible to introduce electronic voting technology in all constituencies this time. For this, the EC needs more than 50,000 EVMs, and Dahal promised the EC Rs 2 billion for the prupose.
But there are fears that the EC has very little time to train its staff for the nationwide use of electronic voting technology, if the local polls are to be held in May. Although Parliament has already passed five bills necessary to hold local polls, the government is yet to announce election dates in an effort to bring Madhesi parties on board.Go back to previous page