The responsibility of holding free and fair elections is not only the task of the Election Commission or of His Majesty’s Government and other related bodies. It is also the responsibility of civil society to contribute to the success of holding free and fair elections.
Civil society members can play the following role in ensuring free and fair elections:
- Offer necessary help to election personnel. Responsible members of civil society can help in such tasks as voter registration, voting and vote counting, without taking the side of any party or candidate.
- Encourage the entire voting community to participate in the voting process. While playing such a role, leaders of civil society should give advice and suggestions impartially.
- Form support committees in every polling station in order to help election personnel conduct elections in a fair and free manner.
- Inform concerned officials immediately about rigging or irregularities observed during the election.
- Work to prevent disturbances. It is everybody’s duty to vote. It is the responsibility not only of election personnel but also of the public to create an environment where individuals can exercise their voting rights without fear.
In Nepal, in 2006 during democratic movement or known as Jana Andolan-II, civil society and political parties worked together and contributed significantly to support democracy movement through writing, creating discourses, and organizing street protest actions. The CSOs also inspired political parties to accelerate the movement when the parties could not do so on their own, as well as criticized the parties for their interest for power, and urged them to work for the broader public good. Civil society also contributed during the election preparation process preparing a code of conduct for other electoral stakeholders and documenting the demands of minority and marginalized groups.
Resource Manual on Electoral Systems in Nepal, Election Commission of Nepal (translation provided by NDI), https://www.ndi.org/files/1618_np_electionmanualPDF.pdf.
Dr. Rohit Kumar Nepali and Uddhab P. Pyakurel, A Study of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly Election: The Influence of Civil Society and the Multilateral System, Forum International de Montreal, Montreal International Forum, 2009, http://www.fimforum.org/en/library/RNepali2009.pdf.