With 65 postal ballot facilitation booths and 18 mobile booths operational since yesterday, nine polling officials, six security personnel and six porters have taken the postal ballot service to the highlanders in Bumthang yesterday.

Bumthang dzongkhag election officer, Ugyen, said the officials have walked for days to reach the highlanders of Tsampa, Gomthang and Lamthrang of Choekor gewog in Bumthang.

Tsampa and Gomthang, which are officially three days walk from the dzongkhag headquarters in Jakar and Lamthrang, which is four days walk away, have 60, 17 and 15 voters each.

Ugyen explained that the highlanders in the three places have never voted in the past two elections but the dzongkhag election office, on the advice of the dzongdag, took the initiative so that the highlanders could cast their votes this time.

“Since the grazing pastures where the voters live are far from their main polling stations in Nasiphel and Dhur, they had to be provided with the mobile booth facility,” the election officer said. “The polling officials will return tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Election Commission of Bhutan’s (ECB) head of postal ballot unit,  Namgay Tshering, said the number of people availing the postal ballot facilitation booth and mobile booth service dropped by 165 this time compared to the primary elections.

He said that in the primary round, 102,528 people availed the services whereas this time it dropped to 102,363. “People deregistered reasoning that they want to vote on the electronic voting machines (EVM).”

Namgay Tshering said some people have deregistered from the conventional postal ballot facility too. “People who registered from overseas deregistered as well.”

Civil servants, the armed forces, trainees, students and officials on election duty could cast postal votes through the facilitation booths while voters with special needs such as long-term hospital patients, differently-abled persons, prisoners and the highlanders could cast their votes through mobile facilitation booths.

Nine polling officials and security personnel took the service to the voters in the highlands of Bumthang

Tashi Dema