L-R: Polling stations at Changlimithang and Dechencholing

82.87 percent turnout for 3-day postal facilitation booth

This is compared to 77.55 percent in the primary round

A total of 102,363 voters registered for the postal ballot facilitation booth service, which was operational from 10th – 13th October through the 65 booths established across the country.

Of this 84,829 voted bringing the turnout to 82.87 percent which is higher than the 77.55 percent postal facilitation booth turnout of the primary round. This indicates that the overall voter turnout is set to increase in the general round.

Of the total female voters were 46,358 while male voters were 38,471.

The primary round of the National Assembly elections saw a total of 102,528 voters as compared to the 102,363 registered for the general round.

The drop in the number availing the facility is attributed to the voters wishing to vote in person at the designated polling station.

There are a total of 31,641 registered voters for the conventional postal ballot service for the general election, which has increased as compared to 31,263 voters registered during the primary round. The turnout of the postal ballots will only be known on the final polling day.

Overall, the total number of registered postal voters for the general round stands at 134,004 voters as compared to the 133,795 postal voters registered during the primary round, which is a minimal increase by 209 voters availing the facilities in the general round.

In the primary round the combined facilitation booth and postal ballot postal voters played a decisive role in deciding the outcome of the race.

The primary round EVM votes had PDP in first place with 56,180 votes, DNT in second place with 55,166 votes and DPT in third place with 53,108 votes. The EVM votes were competitive with a difference of around 3,000 to 2,000 votes only.

However, postal votes changed the overall results as it went overwhelmingly in favour of DNT and DPT. As a result, DNT came number one with 37,556 postal votes, DPT came number two with 36,912 postal votes and PDP came third with only 23,703 postal votes.

The postal facilitation booth service has been receiving overwhelming responses since it was first initiated by the ECB during the National Council Election, 2018.

Tashi Tshering, 31 year-old cab driver from Mongar, Kengkhar said that since it was absolutely impossible as a self-employee to go and cast his vote in person, he commended the election management body for coming with the new initiative of not having to travel all the way to his village. “Such a facility is like a Kidu by the ECB for making it easier for us to vote in person at the village because it is not only time consuming, it is also financially draining.”

He said that he based his choice mainly on the pledges and manifestos by the party rather than on the candidate as he felt it is important to elect a party that will serve the King, Country and People with utmost loyalty.

“The common forums or the constituency debates can only do so much, because I’ve already made up my mind to vote for the party of my choice” said Tashi.

A 19-year-old student, Sonam Choki from Pemagatshel who was voting for the first time through the facilitation booth said, as far as she’s concerned, voting is her personal right and she must make the decision to elect the best party without letting anyone influence her decision in order to make sure the best party gets elected.

“Since it was my first time voting, I didn’t know any of the procedures for registration. My sisters registered me as an eligible voter and encouraged to vote by explaining the importance of doing so. It’s pretty exciting,” said Sonam Choki.

Similarly, Leki Dema, 23 from Zhemgang, Goshing who came to the polling station with an infant at her back said she was voting for the first time. She also admitted that she knows the party from their logos, referring to the two parties as, Khamshing Metho and Thrung Thrung.

“I looked for a better candidate rather than going with pledges while casting my vote. My husband encouraged me to vote and he registered me as an eligible voter for the facilitation booth service which is very helpful without needing to travel long distances,” said Leki.

Senior citizens, expectant mothers, women with infants and people with special needs were given priority and directly guided to the voting compartment without having to wait in queue to cast their votes.

The facilitation booths across the country have set up two voting compartments for women, taking into consideration the huge women voter turnout during the National Council election and the National Assembly primary round, while the male section in most of the polling stations saw a clear and free space without people having to wait in a queue for long.

To make the voting process more convenient for the overseas postal voters, facilitation centers were also introduced where there were more numbers of Bhutanese residing in the area. The voters could visit the Bhutan consulates, cast their votes through the postal ballots in total secrecy, and drop the ballots at the centers which would then be posted to Bhutan by the embassies.

The head of postal ballot unit, Namgay Tshering from the ECB said that the facilitation booth service has not only helped in the voter turnout, but has greatly improved the credibility unlike the postal ballot service.

“We do not have any assurance on the votes cast through the postal ballots as the decision could have been influenced by the family members or the choice in the ballot papers could have been made by just an individual with authority in the family. However, voters have the right to exercise their individual choice through the facilitation booth service.”

About Sonam Yangdon

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