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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 applauds the Election Commission of Nepal's efforts to finalize a new voter roll for the constituent assembly elections on Nov. 19, 2013, while also identifying areas of concern such as potential voters who have not been registered.
Carter Center observers assessed the continued programs coordinated by the election commission and Ministry of Home Affairs to link voter registration and citizenship certificate distribution outside of district headquarters from March-July 2013. The Center also observed the claims and objection processes implemented after the original registration cutoff date on July 15, as well as the re-opened voter registration window Aug. 17-23.
"The Carter Center commends recent efforts of the Election Commission of Nepal and Ministry of Home Affairs to continue expanding voter registration in more remote parts of the country. We believe this process has been a major step forward in improving the quality of the voter register and Nepal's electoral process. The Center is satisfied that the commission's Voter Registration Program with Photograph mostly adhered to international standards," said David Hamilton, Carter Center Nepal field office director.
"However, the Center is concerned that the number of registered voters is below original targets set by the election commission, potentially leaving a significant section of the population disenfranchised in the next election. There also is a pressing need to conduct an audit of the register to ensure its accuracy," he said.
The Center notes the continuing positive relations between the Election Commission of Nepal and Ministry of Home Affairs in the expansion of voter registration and citizenship certificate drives, as well as improving cooperation between local-level officials managing day-to-day registration activities. In addition, Carter Center observers witnessed increased activities from political parties and civil society supporting voter registration as the July 15 cutoff date approached.
The Carter Center's report also notes areas where the process could be improved, both in the short and longer term. This includes more nuanced voter education drives, which would help to reduce registration barriers among women and other marginalized communities, and making guidelines about legal requirements for registration much clearer. Furthermore, there is considerable scope for coordination between central- and district-level election workers and support for registration from political parties and civil societies to be improved.
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