Heightened security for ballots: Nepal all set to vote in local polls

An official from the election commission carries a sealed ballot boxes towards a vehicle, after the completion of the local election of municipalities and villages representatives in Kathmandu, Nepal May 14, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Kathmandu [Nepal]- One can see an unusual scene in Kathmandu city hall: Workers are erecting metal barricades inside which votes will be counted after voting in local elections on Friday.

Alerted by incidents in the past, the Election Commission has come up with the idea of barricading the entire area with metal bars forbidding anyone except the vote-counting officials to reach up to the casted ballots.
“We are more concerned about the security aspects this time. We have installed Closed Circuit Camera and set up metal barricades which would enable representatives from political parties to see the counting procedure but not let them reach up to the casted ballots. It would fortify the area for the protection of papers and the officials. This change has been incorporated for the vote count this time,” Prem Kumar Shrestha, Spokesperson at Office of the Electoral Officer, Kathmandu told ANI.

The incident of tearing of ballots at Bharatpur in Chitwan District at the time of vote count in 2017 election has prompted the electoral body to heighten security at vote counting centres. Cadres of Maoist Centre at that time had torn and ate some of the ballots at that time forcing a re-election in the area.

The Election Commission had wanted to install Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras at all 753 vote counting centres across the country for the local elections but was able only to execute it in around 300 places only.

Whenever CCTV monitoring is not possible, officials will be asked to keep video records of the counting process so that they can be used whenever any dispute arises.

Apart from security for ballots, a large number of security personnel are being deployed in the Himalayan Nation with a population below 20 million for local polls of Friday. As per the Home Ministry, 2,60,000 security persons are providing security for Friday’s franchise.

Among them 100,000 are the Myadi (temporary) police persons. More than 65,000 Nepal Police personnel, over 32,000 Armed Police Force (APF) personnel and 71,000 Nepali Army personnel are mobilized for securing the election.

Security is provided in three cordons. In the first cordon are the Nepal Police and Myadi police personnel. In the second cordon are the APF personnel and the Nepali Army personnel are mobilized in the third (outer) cordon, the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

As per the Election Commission, a total of 17,733,723 voters are enlisted to exercise their voting right on Friday’s election. There are a total of 10,756 polling stations and 21,955 polling booths for it.

There are 10,756 polling stations and 21,955 polling centres in 753 local bodies. Of them, 2,946 polling centres are highly sensitive and 4,423 have been listed as sensitive. The polls will open at 7 AM (Local Time) and close at 5 PM (Local Time) on Friday. (ANI)


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