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Over 10 Million Nepalis Registered to Vote, Ensuring Access for Remaining Unregistered Voters Crucial

नेपालीमा पढ्नुहोस \

Contact: Atlanta, Deborah Hakes, +1 404 420 5124; Kathmandu, Sarah Levit-Shore, +977 1 444 1446

Kathmandu…In a report released today, The Carter Center commended the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) for registering more than 10 million Nepali citizens to date, and encouraged the ECN to undertake additional efforts to reach out to those who have yet to participate in the process.

"The ECN has made substantial progress and should now seek to reach the significant number of Nepalis who are not yet registered to ensure that eligible citizens, especially those in remote areas and from marginalized communities, are included on the new list," said Dr. David Pottie, associate director of the Carter Center's Democracy Program.

The ECN has currently registered approximately 93 percent of its internal target for this period but has only reached approximately 69 percent of its overall registration target. However, this overall registration target should be revised when 2011 census data becomes available.

The most recent ECN data indicates that turnout per population has been highest in districts such as Ilam and Jhapa and lowest in more remote districts such as Jajarkot, Kalikot, and Dolpa.

Data collected by the ECN indicates that a significant number of people throughout the country remain without citizenship certificates. These individuals are not limited to any single geographic region. Possession of a citizenship certificate is a requirement to register on the new voter list. The Government of Nepal should consider additional measures to facilitate access to citizenship certificates for eligible Nepali citizens in line with the Feb. 7, 2011, Supreme Court decision to ensure these citizens are not denied their right to vote.

The ECN has successfully negotiated a resolution to political party obstructions that were hampering the process previously, a significant achievement. Carter Center observers noted that if concerns related to citizenship certificate issues are not addressed, such obstructions could potentially begin again at a later phase in the process.

Based on observer findings from the district and village level, registration is moving forward positively in the areas in which it is ongoing. However, observers have continuously noted low citizen awareness of the possibility to register while outside their district of legal residence. Carter Center observers also highlighted a number of issues related to the ongoing data verification process, including a high rate of records requiring corrections, some of which could affect the overall quality of the data.

Finally, The Carter Center commends the ECN for taking multiple positive steps in line with Carter Center recommendations such as re-opening voter registration in locations previously affected by obstruction from political parties and opening registration at some locations outside of district headquarters to facilitate greater access.

The Carter Center hopes that the ECN will continue to build on its efforts to promote greater access and opportunity for all Nepalis who wish to register to vote.

Summary of Key Recommendations

The Election Commission of Nepal should:

  • Revise ECN registration turnout targets in line with new 2011 census data as soon as it is available, and as was done previously provide clear justification for the revised figures;
  • Address weaknesses in technical and procedural aspects of the ongoing verification process, particularly those related to major discrepancies in the data;
  • Conduct a refresher training course prior to any new field-level registration phases to ensure that registration staff correct the minor errors Carter Center observers have consistently observed during all phases of the process to date;
  • Consider continuing and expanding voter registration efforts outside of District Election Offices, including through participation in mobile integrated service delivery teams;
    • Revise and maintain the voter registration timeline, and communicate the current status of the process and future plans of the ECN to election and administrative officials, political parties, and voters;
    • Formalize plans to conduct a missed voter registration exercise to reach eligible individuals who have not yet registered, focusing especially on areas of low turnout;
    • Develop a targeted voter education plan and communication strategy for upcoming and future phases of the registration process as well as plans for facilitating registration for people who may be unaware of the process, who may not know about out-of-district registration, or who may have difficulties registering;
    • Establish clear procedures for key upcoming phases in the voter registration process such as the complaints and objections phase and the central-level checking of the voter list;
    • Continue efforts to improve the capacity of the ECN IT department;
  • Plan ahead for the possibility that national identity cards are not available by the next election;
  • Develop civic education plans to be implemented prior to eventual elections.

The Government of Nepal should:

  • Increase its efforts to issue citizenship certificates to all eligible Nepali citizens, as required by the Supreme Court in Feb. 2011;
  • Coordinate closely with the ECN in the case a decision is taken to create national identity cards;
  • Reduce turnover and uncertainty in ECN staffing by filling vacant posts and considering reforms in civil service rules.

Political Parties and Civil Society should:

  • Play a more active and supportive role in the voter registration process.

View the Center's full report (PDF) >

Working to support peace in Nepal since 2003, The Carter Center deployed an international election observation mission to observe the 2008 constituent assembly elections. The Center has remained in-country to observe the constitution drafting efforts and the peace process, with a focus on the local level. Read all the Carter Center reports on Nepal's peace process.


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Read full report in English (PDF)

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