LG: There was a sharp increase in postal ballots for this year’s local government (LG) election in Trashigang.

Its 15 gewogs received 15,224 postal ballots. However, lack of data did not allow for a percentage to be calculated. But according to those participating in the elections, postal ballots increased significantly from the first election in 2011.

Thrimshing and Kangpar gewogs received the highest with 1,766 postal ballots while Kangpar got 1,731. Merak and Sakteng got the least at 229 and 204 respectively. “Merak doesn’t have many civil servants,” Merak mangmi-elect Phurpa said, adding that spouses are included.

Kanglung gup-elect Kinzang Dorji received the highest number of postal ballots at 276. Other gups-elect also received over 150 postal ballots each.

In the mangmi race, Khaling mangmi-elect Tshewang received the highest at 326.

Phongmey received only around 300 postal ballots in total in 2011 according to Phongmey gup-elect Palden Dorji. But this year the number shot up to 972 in total.

The number of postal ballots also increased in Thrimshing and Kangpar gewogs. Thrimshing gup-elect Ngawang Dorji said that in 2011 only around 800 postal ballots were received compared to 1,766 this time.

Khaling received the third highest number of postal ballots at 1,605.

Local leader elects attributed the sharp increase to voter maturity and candidate ability to rally votes from those working in the civil service and corporations. “This is an indication of people feeling the increasing importance of local government,” Khaling gup-elect Tashi Dorji.

It is expected that the number will increase in the next LG election. “As more people get educated on the postal ballot facility, the number of votes will only rise,” Tashi Dorji said.

However, the postal ballot did not influence results significantly since almost all the 105 local leader elects won through votes cast on the electronic voting machine (EVM). Two gup contestants from Samkhar and Shongphu were defeated despite leading in the postal ballot count.

Tempa Wangdi | Trashigang