Bhutan returns to the poll

With 5,307 election officials deployed to the 865 polling stations, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is ready to conduct the general elections, according to the state of readiness report from the commission.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) would contest the election.

The officials on duty exclude the security personnel and ECB’s regular staff who are fully involved on election duty.

The report states that of the 865 polling stations that would cater to the 47 constituencies, 674 polling stations would be staffed by a presiding officer and three polling officers besides the security personnel, while 191 polling stations that cater to less than 250 voters would be managed by three polling officials with a polling officer acting as the presiding officer.

It also stated that 141 are temporary polling stations set up in places where there is no appropriate public infrastructure.

ECB has also distributed 1,730 electronic voting machines (EVMs) to the polling stations after procuring 1,000 new EVMs to ensure smooth elections. All polling stations have been provided with a spare EVM for backup.

There are a total of 438,663 registered voters, 224,550 female and 214,113 male as of July 1 and 424 were added in the supplementary list.  

Trashigang has the highest number of registered voters with 47,614 (23,000 males and 24,614 females) while the lowest is in Gasa with 2,064 (982 males and 1082 females).

The report states that a total of Nu 14,100 Million (M) has been disbursed to the 94 candidates of the two political parties as election campaign fund.

A candidate was provided Nu 150,000 and parties are also permitted to spend an equivalent amount on the permissible heads of expenditure under the laws.

It states that the election campaign, which included public debates, saw 536 common forums in all gewogs and even at the chiwog levels in some places attended by 31,851(15,780 female and 16,071 male) voters. State-sponsored television, radio and print media advertisement as well as posters, banners and placards were provided under the laws to facilitate candidates to reach voters and for voters to have enough access to information on the political parties and the candidates of the constituencies.

“All candidates also conducted separate meetings and door-to-door campaigns during the election period but all campaign activities stopped 48 hours before the poll day.”

ECB also deputed 602 polling officials to operate the 67 postal ballot facilitation and 29 mobile booths on October 10, 11 and 12.

The India-Bhutan border was sealed from 6pm yesterday and will reopen by 6pm today.

“As a back-up and cross-checking mechanism, the results from each polling station shall also be delivered to the constituency (Demkhong) counting centre or relayed by phone, fax, or email to the returning officer for onward submission to national result centre after validation,” the report stated.

ECB accredited 363 media personnel and 11 international journalists have processed permits to cover the elections. Nine international visitors will witness the elections under the election visitors programme. Two international observers from the Election Commission of India have been invited to observe the elections.

The report states that all the arrangements are made to ensure that the elections are conducted in a free, fair and smooth manner.

Meanwhile, the commission would upload two-hourly turnout reports on its website and the results from the counting centres shall be relayed through SMS to the national results centre and verified by the returning officers.

Tashi Dema

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