Nepali artists come together with the Election Commission to educate voters

November 16, 2022
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In the age of social media, misinformation spreads like wildfire. Ahead of Nepal’s general elections slated for November 20, one of the biggest challenges for the Election Commission is to effectively combat misinformation and promote voter education to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.

For the first time in its history, the Commission has reached out to Nepal’s top influencers, including cinema artists and singers seeking their pro-bono support in reaching out to a larger audience.

“Artists are key influencers who can help spread positive messages, fight disinformation, and help create a conducive environment to make the upcoming elections free, fair, credible, and fearless,” said Dinesh Thapaliya, the Chief Election Commissioner, during an interaction programme with Nepali artists organised by the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) on November 7. The commissioner appealed the fraternity of Nepali artists to disseminate election and voter education information through their social media. The programme was aimed at informing the artists of their social responsibilities and engage them in disseminating voter information via the commission's official websites.

"I am a professional artist and I charge for my work. However, I would be more than happy to contribute to this election free of cost. I take it as my social responsibility and hereby commit to disseminate election and voter education information through my social media platforms," singer Prakash Saput said at the programme.

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The need for increased effort to fight misinformation and voter education was one of the learnings from the past elections.

The Election Commission of Nepal had established a social media monitoring committee for the local level election held earlier in 2022. The committee monitored 120,326 social media posts during the election period (April 11 to May 18, 2022) and 543 social media contents were found to have breached the election code of conduct. Furthermore, the commission also established a press office on its premises for media and social media management and monitoring during the general election period.  

The commission’s call for support from artists was very well received. Many of the popular actors and singers pledged their support to voter education. After the programme, many of them eagerly cooperated in shooting short videos with election messages, appealing to voters to take part in the upcoming elections. Those videos are already out on the commission's Facebook page.

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"This is the first time that the Election Commission brought together Nepali artists ahead of the general elections,” said Harihar Sharma, a television and radio artist. “We are privileged to be here and discuss issues related to elections from our perspectives. I would, however, would like to reiterate that voters are still not confident on how to vote correctly. Hence, voter education should reach every voter through whatever possible channel.”

Over 60 Nepali artists, including 18 women, were present at the interaction programme. Along with Thapaliya, the Chief Election Commissioner, the programme was attended by Election Commissioners Sagun Shamsher J.B. Rana, Janaki Kumari Tuladhar, and other Commission Secretariat officials.

The programme was conceptualised and supported by UNDP Electoral Support Project (ESP). UNDP has been extending electoral support to the commission on different fronts like IT support, voter registration, integration of gender equality and social inclusion, electoral education and information, and electoral dispute resolution since 2008 (here is a factsheet on UNDP support to the electoral process of Nepal).