Bumthang dzongkhag is on a mission, an important one.

As the dzongkhag stand ready for the poll day, its mission is to accomplish a dispute free election and generate the highest voter turnout.

To do so, the dzongkhag has requested 22 families from Chhumig, who were gearing to migrate to their winter residence, to stay back until the general elections are over.

To compensate for the lost time, the dzongkhag has rendered a health checkup to some 120 voters from these families. Bumthang Dzongdag, Pasang Dorji said a medical team with a doctor of their choice and few health assistants were sent to their village on October 14. “They were very happy and agreed to stay back for the poll day,” he said.

Pasang Dorji said the election team has been working hard to achieve this mission from day one and various initiatives were rolled out.

The dzongkhag election team has taken the voter education all the way down to the chiwog level and has take full advantage of the common forum to educate the voters.

“We believe in voter education so that people can make wise and better decision,” he said.

Bumthang saw one of the highest voter turnouts in the primaries with 76.3 percent against the national figure of 66 percent. “This is not good enough,” Pasang Dorji said adding that the election team reviewed the turnout and reminded the remaining 24 percent through the gewog administration.

As for the postal ballot facilitation booth, Bumthang saw a turn out 90 percent against 89 percent in the primary round.

The Dzongdag said employees and dependents of about 50 agencies were provided the facility and that the election team knows every voter using the facilitation booth. “We sent reminders to those who didn’t turn up in the primary round and made calls until the last minute,” he said. “We value each and every vote.”

The team took three facilitation booths to the highlanders in Lamthrang, Gonthang and Tshampa for 92 voters, of which 87 turned out to cast their ballot.

The facilitation booth in Wangduecholing saw 1,743 voter against a registered voter of 1,914. In Chhumig, 446 of the 502 voters used the facilitation booth.

The Jakar tshechu, which begins tomorrow, coincides with the poll day. Pasang Dorji said that he had urged voters to first cast their vote and then attend the tshechu because people usually drink during the tshechu. A message requesting the voters to turn up for the poll would be broadcast on the local television channel today. For 46 dancers, who would be performing during the tshechu, postal ballot facility was provided.

The dzongkhag has not witnessed any election-related disputes so far. This record has been there since the primaries.

The Dzongdag said that some misunderstandings are inevitable but the team could resolve the issues amicably. This, Pasang Dorji said was possible because of the preventive measures the dzongkhag took.

He said election officials and the security team met with all the party coordinators, supporters and candidates.  “We have requested them to refrain from involving in allegations that could affect the security and sovereignty of the country,” he said.

The dzongkhag election team visited all the party offices and cautioned party officials. A separate meeting with coordinators and supporters of Bhutan Kuen Nyam Party and People’s Democratic Party were also held to prevent undue interference in the general round. “We thanked them for participating in the elections and told them that they cannot join and campaign for other parties, while they are free to vote for party of their choice,” Pasang Dorji said.

The dzongkhag election team also met the coordinator and candidates of the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) to refrain from creating division among the people and resort to defamation.

The WeChat groups of the parties are strictly being monitored. The dzongkhag ICT officer is in 11 DPT WeChat groups and five DNT groups. The Dzongdag said people in the group are allowed to campaign and talk about their pledges in the social media groups.

“We monitor cases of defamation, and talks that could undermine the security and sovereignty of the country,” he said adding that this initiative was appreciated by supporters and coordinators of both the parties.

Tshering Dorji  | Bumthang