There is a possibility that the Pemagatshel Nanong-Shumar bye-election slated for early next month could elicit a low voter turnout.
Despite having 8,247 total registered voters, only 368 which accounts to about 4.5% have applied for postal ballots. The Election Commission’s (ECB) Returning Officer, Sonam Bumthap said that out of 368 received postal ballots, 335 have been accepted and the rest 33 rejected. He said the rejection was caused mainly because of unregistered voters applying for postal ballots. Giving his opinion on the few postal ballot voters, he said the people might not have felt important to vote this time.
During the second National Parliamentary General Election which was held on May 31, the number of postal ballots accepted for the constituency was 1,366. Former Lyonchhen and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) President Jigmi Y Thinley trounced People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) Pema Wangchuk with a landslide margin securing a total vote of 3,742 out of which 1,071 were from postal ballots and 2,671 through the electronic voting machine (EVM).
Pema Wangchuk received 1,011 votes out of which 295 were secured from postal ballots.
Following Jigmi Y Thinley’s resignation in August post the general elections the ECB has called for bye-elections in the constituency. A 31-year- old young businesswoman, Dechen Zangmo from Chungkhar village, Zobel gewog who has Bachelor of Arts from India shall substitute the DPT President in the upcoming election while PDP will be represented by the same candidate, Pema Wangchuk, 34, who has master of law from Canberra and was working with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) before joining politics.
The PDP candidate is currently busy with common forums that began from September 23. Three common forums have been conducted to date and the campaign will end on November 7 prior to the 24-hour black out period before the Poll Day. Meanwhile, the DPT candidate opted for door- to- door campaign over common forums.
According to the Dzongkhag Election Commissioner, Rinzin the cost for the bye-election is estimated at Nu 1.4mn. Of the 8,278 voters, 4,114 are male and 4,164 female.