In Nepal, to be able to vote is a tough nut to crack

Forced to stand in long queues, coupled with delays, service seekers express rage against the tedious voter registration process.

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Service seekers were waiting in a long queue under the scorching sun at the Kathmandu District Election Commission on Sunday. Worn-out faces looked desperate for their turns to enter the Election Office, to register their names on the voter list. Some were resting their shoulders on the wall out of tiredness, others were complaining to the officials, yet others were bursting with anger. 

But the officials were helpless. They could do nothing but watch the service seekers in line, battling with the scorching summer sun. Some service seekers had even returned home as they felt unwell due to continuous exposure to the sun and rain.

Nirpesh Parajuli, a resident of Butwal, was also in the queue, eagerly waiting for his turn. He lamented the inconvenience faced due to the current system of obtaining a voter ID. “I have to take a leave from my office just to complete the time-consuming procedure of making a voter ID. On top of that, the unpredictable weather further complicates the task,” he told Nepal Live Today. 

Nirpesh Parajuli

Ranjan Poudel, another service seeker from Janakpur, said that the complications of getting a voter ID deter people from registering to vote. “In the unpredictable weather, my sisters and I have been standing here for hours. It’s very discouraging when we have to leave our personal responsibilities for an entire day to stand in line just for the mere chance of exercising our right to vote,” he burst with anger. 

Prabesh Poudel, 23, from Sindhuli, shared that he had been waiting in the area for hours for a chance to get his voter ID. “Regardless of the change of leadership in the country, the system has remained unchanged. We are standing in line for hours so that we can elect representatives into offices, who will, in turn, forget to ease the legal and registration process for the general public,” he said.  

Prabesh Poudel

As the elections are approaching, the line is getting longer. The trouble faced by the service seekers is simultaneously turning into rage. What makes it even worse is the tedious registration process. 

The voters’ list for the upcoming provincial and federal elections, due to be held in November, started being updated on June 15. The Election Commission halted the registration process after the date for the local elections was announced on February 8. 

As the elections are approaching, the lines in front of voter registration offices are getting longer. The trouble faced by the service seekers is simultaneously turning into rage. 

Nepali citizens who are 18 and above can register their names at the provincial and district election offices, district administration offices, and area administration offices.

Though there have been talks of an online system of registration, no actions have been taken to further explore the idea. Parajuli from Butwal demanded that the online system should be brought in with utmost urgency for documentation and registration.

The Election Commission officials claim that they have done as much as possible to ensure that the voter registration process continues without hassles. 

“The election commission has taken steps to ensure that the voter registration process continues. There are Election Offices in all 77 districts of Nepal to ensure easy voter registration,” said Surya P Aryal, information officer at the Election Commission. 

According to Aryal, the reason behind the long lines is the tendency of the people not to get things done on time. “As soon as you receive your citizenship card from the District Administration Office, you can apply for voter registration. It would definitely ease the task. Moreover, registration can be done from the area administration offices as well,” he said.

According to him, there are long queues on election office premises because youths are excited to get their identity cards made to vote in the upcoming polls. 

Aryal admits the need for an online registration process. “This is why we have a need for online registration. However, citizens have to visit the election office for fingerprint scans, photos, and signatures even after online registration. The government is preparing to make online forms available from mid-July,” he said.