Candidates wrapped up their door-to-door campaigns yesterday

MB Subba

The pre-poll blackout period of the third local government (LG) elections will begin from 8am today.

No one, including candidates, will be allowed to campaign, publish, broadcast, or transmit election materials on media platforms during the 48-hour period.

However, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has said that authorised campaign materials posted during the campaign period can be retained if they are not within 100 metres of the polling station.

The ECB’s notification also bars individuals and agencies from conducting public activities that have the potential to sway voters in favour of or against a candidate.

“Any individual or candidate resorting to any such unlawful acts shall be dealt with as per the law,” the ECB states.

The ECB issued the notification as per Section 305 of the Election Act, which states: “No candidate or political party shall convene public meetings and campaign on the day of the poll and during the forty-eight hours preceding the hour fixed for commencement of polling.”

The ECB has also prohibited publication and broadcasting of exit polls.

Exit polls, according to the ECB, include “forecasts or predictions relating to the probable result of the elections based on the information provided by or obtained from, voters or observers at the elections”.

The blackout period, according to the ECB, is imposed to fulfil the “noble intention of providing conducive time and space for proper reflection and exercise of franchise” by the electorate.

Polls will be held in 205 gewogs, 16 dzongkhag towns, and the Samdrupjongkhar Thromde on December 22.

However, elections for gups in eight gewogs have been postponed to January 6 due to audit clearance issues.

The eight gewogs affected are Chapcha gewog in Chukha, Dangchu and Nyisho in Wangdue, Patshaling in Tsirang, Guma in Punakha, Korphu in Trongsa, Soe in Thimphu, and Lunana in Gasa.

The ECB also bars civil servants, except those on election duty, from involving themselves in election-related activities.

ECB records show there are about 245 university graduates contesting in the upcoming election.