If the primary round of election was a success, then a part of the kudos goes to voters who persevered through rain and muddy environments to reach the polling stations. And for those who had to brave raging rivers or falling boulders, they are the worthy claimants to whatever laurels the event should bestow.
The voters were an all-enthusiastic lot, but the rains seem to have changed their temperaments. This turned out true in the polling stations in Thimphu during the recently concluded primary round of election.
Voter turnout, therefore, seemed less due to the rain in every polling station as compared to NC election held on April 23.
In the capital, the old and young voters with the knitted-brows and umbrellas waited impatiently in queues for their turns at respective stations to vote and leave the cold and damp surroundings.
The voter turnout in Jigme Losel Middle Secondary School (MSS) polling station was higher than other polling stations in Thimphu. This was visibly witnessed from the number of heads standing in queues which was more when compared to other polling stations.
While at Changangkha MSS and Dechencholing MSS polling stations had fewer people on queues.
Kuzhuchen polling station was empty at around 12 noon. The Returning Officer said Kuzhuchen polling station has 180 registered voters and only 91 of them had voted. She said the voter turnout in the station might have been affected by the rain and road conditions.
At the polling station like Dazhi under Kawang gewog, it was uncomfortable site for voters as there was no proper place for the voters to line up. One end of the voters’ queue entered the voting house while the other end extended up to the road side. Some voters had to pull a balancing act while precariously standing on slippery a red mud ground. Some took support on people standing in front or behind them for balance or to get a better foothold. Things became worse when vehicles passing by splashed muddy water from the narrow farm road at the voters.
Voters under Thimphu who traveled toward Kabisa crossing the Pangrizampa Bridge had a tough time driving through the rough uneven road, and conditions were made worse due to heavy rain.
The traffic was another issue. The farm road from Pangrizampa to polling stations are narrow, and vehicles from both side of the road come nose to nose at a point there is not enough room to pass by easily. To add to this, drivers and owners of some cars were not willing to create space for other vehicles while voters were made to wait for hours on the road.
Ap Sonam Penjor, 54, from Kawang gewog with a frown said, “I guess the rain for the whole 2013 is pouring out today. I am not happy with the weather today because due to the rain many voters wouldn’t have voted. Even my younger son didn’t turn up. He said that it was raining, and he can’t stand in rain.”
An elderly voter Aum Zam was standing next to the Jigme Losel gate with an umbrella in her right hand and her left hand holding the ends of her kira.
“Today’s rain is so ill-timed. Why it should be today itself, why it can’t be tomorrow or the day after, I mean either the voting or the rain,” she said
A resident from Kawang gewog under Thimphu, Karma Eden, 47, said that due to the rain, the number of votes that each member gets will be affected. “I don’t think the rain will have much effect in numbers of voters here, but I am sure the southern and eastern will be affected much more,” she added.
Many voters shared the same view on ‘less voter turnout due to rain’. Thinley Dorji from Thimphu said next time round, there might be something the Election Commission (ECB) can do in the timings to match the weather conditions.