ECB is looking into possibilities of allowing voters to vote from their place of residence 

Election: To enable themselves to vote from the place of their residence, 10,737 people transferred their census, mostly within gewogs of the same dzongkhag, and some between dzongkhags and thromdes, in six months, from July to December last year.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) in July last year notified that December 31, 2014 would be the last day for the transfer of census, as the laws require a minimum of one year registration in a demkhong to vote or stand as a candidate in an election.  This is applicable particularly for the four thromdes whose elections are due in early 2016.

This means that the time to transfer census for the upcoming thromde elections has elapsed.  The last elections for thromdes were held in January 2011.

However, as regards the elections for gups, mangmis and tshogpas, people still have a few months to transfer their census to the constituency of their choice.  The last elections to these posts were held in June 2011.

The officiating chief election commissioner (CEC), Deki Pema, said, “Those, who have processed in time, will be able to vote or contest in upcoming local government elections from the demkhong of registration.” “Nevertheless, we encourage those wishing to transfer to do so at the earliest so that they can vote in future elections in the demkhong of choice.”

Deki Pema said the election commission was collaborating with the home ministry to reduce bureaucratic hassles and facilitate quick transfer of census. “We’ve made the process easy, so that people don’t have to run around,” she said.

The transfer of census, Deki Pema said, would enable people to participate meaningfully as a voter or a candidate. “This is important for effective and meaningful participation in the democratic process and political life, either as a voter, candidate or both.”

However, not all can transfer their civil registration as they wish.  The laws require that a person must produce a copy of the lagthram in the gewog or thromde he or she wants to transfer the census to.  This means they should own immovable property like land in the place of choice.

One can also transfer his census to households of either parents or relatives, if the receiving household is willing to accept.

At the same time, ECB is also looking into how modern technology, such as biometrics and IT, could be harnessed and prudent investments made to enable voting from the place of residence, “such that you could vote for a candidate in Tsirang from Thimphu without the use of postal ballot or having to travel from Thimphu to Tsirang.”

The web portal G2C (government-to-citizen), which is already there, has made the delivery of this service to the citizens easier. “We encourage voters to ensure civil registration is in their place of residence, where the stakes are highest for you and your family, so that you can exercise your franchise in the most meaningful manner,” Deki Pema said.

By MB Subba