According to Namgay Tshering, ICT head at the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), the office after conducting Learning from Experience Programs (LEP), observed that voters always found casting votes through postal ballot as a complicated and lengthy process with many forms to be filled. “So ECB started reviewing the facility to simplify the process and introduce a more convenient method of voting for them. So we’ve found out after the review that we needed to facilitate the postal voters. So in order to facilitate the postal voters, we’ve come up with a new method called facilitation booth.”
Similar to the polling station, facilitation booth is a polling booth for postal voters which do not require filling any forms unlike postal ballot. But the booth will only cater to the eligible voters and not to the entire citizens of the country. It will be set up in identified places around the country after considering the number of postal voters residing in certain areas.
Registered postal voters can cast their vote through the booth even if they have their census registered in other dzongkhags. The voters will have to walk in the booth they have chosen depending on their convenience and the presiding officer will verify and a pre-filled ITC form will be provided and the voter would have to sign the form in presence of the polling assistance.
After handing the pre-filled ITC form back to the electoral officers, the polling officer will hand over a postal ballot package envelope to the voters which will contain a specified ballot paper. In the voting compartment, unlike before where the voters needed to tick their options, they can now cast their votes by the means of stamping against the candidate of their choice. The envelope then needs to be sealed properly by the voters themselves and put in inside the transparent ballot box available in the voting compartment.
“The facilitation booth saves almost half of the postal charges and the process of filling the postal ballot forms, which many find complicated, has been simplified.” said Namgay Tshering.
The earlier conventional postal ballot method will still be existent for the far flung voters in the country and for the people residing overseas. One more option is the mobile facilitation booth, meant especially for the people with disabilities. It will also cater to the voters in the hospitals who are not allowed to leave the hospital due to medical issues and for the prisoners.