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The Carter Center Commends Nepal Election Commission's Voter Registration Outreach Efforts, Also Highlights Areas of Concern

नेपालीमा पढ्नुहोस \

Read the full English report (PDF)

CONTACT: In Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404-420-5124; In Kathmandu, David Hamilton +977 01-444-5055

Kathmandu…In a report released today, The Carter Center commends the Election Commission of Nepal's latest mobile voter registration outreach drive, but lower registration rates of women and young citizens, data quality, and an uncertain national political context remain areas of concern that must be rectified to improve the voter roll before the next election is held.

The Carter Center's report outlines its observations of the election commission's mobile outreach program designed to target citizens from marginalized communities — including women, Dalits, and Adivasi Janajati groups, as well as those from geographically remote regions — to register to vote.

"The Carter Center applauds the collaborative efforts of both the Election Commission of Nepal and Ministry of Home Affairs to expand voter registration and citizenship certificate drives," said David Hamilton, field office director for The Carter Center in Nepal. "However, a large number of eligible citizens — potentially several million — remain unaccounted for on the voter register. These people should not be left behind as the country's democratic transition continues."

Positively, Carter Center observers witnessed an increased collaboration between local-level stakeholders including district election officers, district administration officers, village development committee secretaries and various non-governmental organizations. There were improvements in implementing technical aspects of voter registration, and higher registration rates when civil society and political party representatives were actively involved in voter education and registration drives.

Observers found that many Nepali citizens were delighted to have the opportunity to engage with government officials face-to-face in remote village development committees.

The report also highlights areas to improve existing registration efforts. These include a lack of resources and time to execute plans made by the Election Commission of Nepal and the uneven participation of all concerned stakeholders to improve the registration process and ensure the full protection of voting rights for all Nepali citizens.

Structural barriers, particularly when obtaining citizenship certificates, also have prevented many women from registering to vote. And many young people are yet to be included on the voter roll. The Carter Center's report notes that based on 2011 census data, a greater number of persons than previously estimated remain unregistered. The rate of registration between July and December 2012 does not appear to match the rate of demographic change in the country.

The report makes the following recommendations to strengthen the voter registration process.

To the Government and Political Parties:

  • Find an agreement on the holding of elections. Commissioners should be appointed to the election commission before implementing elections planning or activities, in order to ensure the independence of the election administration and the overall confidence of citizens and political parties. Election-related legislation should be modified to fully reflect the continuous voter registration system now in use in Nepal.

To the Government of Nepal:

  • Continue efforts to ensure that all eligible Nepali citizens have access to citizenship certificates. In particular, the deployment of mobile teams by the Ministry of Home Affairs to issue citizenship certificates, in conjunction with field registration efforts by the election commission, should be prioritized. The ministry also should consider ways to increase the number of citizenship certificates issued during field visits.
  • Review and modify as necessary the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the issuance of citizenship certificates to ensure that married women are able to obtain documents irrespective of their husband's family cooperation and are able to register to vote without discrimination.
  • Consider ways to overcome legal barriers to citizenship certificate and voter registration by otherwise eligible persons, such as the children of individuals who received citizenship by birth under special provision in 2006-2007.

To the Election Commission of Nepal:

  • Use the 2011 census data to recalculate the number of persons potentially eligible to be registered, overall and by district. Consideration should be given to improving registration rates in those districts with the lowest overall registration rates and those with the highest absolute numbers of unregistered persons. This may result in a reassignment of resources to those districts.
  • Continue deployment of mobile voter registration teams in coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The identification of target numbers of citizenship certificates to issue and new registration numbers in the planning phase would enable the election commission and the ministry to assess the effectiveness of field efforts.
  • Increase cooperation at national level with civil society organizations representing marginalized communities and women. A consultative meeting or roundtable with local and regional civil society organizations could further improve the effectiveness of the commission's program nationwide.
  • Consider ways to ensure that the names of deceased voters are identified and removed from the voter list.
  • Consider ways of sharing best practice among district election officers.
  • Ensure that an audit of voter registration takes place as soon as possible, in order to address any areas of concern and to improve future registration efforts.

To Political Parties:

  • Play a more active and supportive role in the voter registration and voter education process. It is in the interest of all political parties to support the registration process by mobilizing eligible voters.

To Civil Society:

  • Similarly to political parties, engage more with voter registration and voter education efforts conducted by the election commission. Additionally, help existing civil society voter registration efforts at the district level be replicated throughout the country.


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. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the 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 to increase crop production.

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