Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav has urged everyone to help family members learn how to cast their ballot. Yadav, in an interview with Onlinekhabar, said he was worried that the number of invalid votes could be high this time because the election is taking place at a short notice. “We feel that we could have done more to educate the voters about the ballot. But the time is up for us now. So we urge family members to teach one another,” he said.
Excerpts from the interview:
Could you tell us more about the silent period? Why is it necessary?
This period of silence is given to the voters to decide whom to vote. Voters should be left alone during this period. The Commission, meanwhile, prepares the polling booths for elections.
Although the period of silence has started, voters have said they still do not know the details of the ballot. Do you see a possibility that large chunk of votes will be deemed invalid?
We feel that the voter education programmes have not been adequate. This happened because we were told to conduct elections at short notice. We had many things to do, including designing the voter education programmes. We had to decide how we wanted to do it and how much we wanted to do it.
Just as this was going on, there was an environment of uncertainty related to the elections for a long time. This also had an impact on the voter education programme. In the meantime, the government decided to hold the elections in two phases.
We believe that political parties and their candidates are more responsible for educating the voters. They had sent their volunteers to the people’s homes to explain to them the voting process. We expect that to have a positive impact.
The Commission also sends 23,000 people to go to the public to teach them the voting process. We also should remember that the voters themselves have enquired about the voting process.
Would you describe the ballot paper as ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’ for people to understand?
Understanding the ballot paper this time is not easy. A voter has to choose seven representatives. Our voters have never done that in the recent past. That is why it is a challenge for the voters to cast a valid vote.
Now let’s talk about election day. Is the EC prepared to deal with untoward incidents, especially at the booths?
All parties want to win an election and that is why we can expect some incidents to take place. We have deployed police personnel at all wards. We have also made top leaders of political parties give us a written commitment that they will help conduct the elections in free and fair manner.
How can we be assured after violent incidents in Dolakha and Rukum?
The Commission has become very sensitive about the issue of violence after the Dolakha incident. We have told security agencies to avoid confrontation of any kind. If we find that any candidate has violated the election code of conduct, we can even cancel their candidacy.
I say that during elections, many accidents happen. Any kind of crime is linked with the elections, that is why security agencies should also work towards reducing crime.
Can the voters go to the polling stations and vote without any kind of fear or hesitation?
As the Chief Election Commissioner, I would like to assure the voters that they can go to the polling stations without any fear. Decide whom do you want to vote by the morning of May 14. Don’t tell anyone who you are going to vote for. This will help us manage the elections better. I also urge the voters to go home after they are done voting. That will reduce the chance of any untoward incidents.
Published on May 12th, Friday, 2017 3:37 PM