Calling voters and candidates to the polls

More than 3,000 aspirants have passed functional literacy test (FLT) for the upcoming local government elections. Election commission’s efforts to take the message of adult franchise to the farthest pockets of the country seem to have paid off. It deserves our commendations.

But then, more needs to be done. Taking FLT centres to the gewogs has certainly helped increase the number of people sitting the test. There is a good indication that the challenge we faced during the first local government elections may not repeat again. Of the 3,110 eligible candidates, 928 are women. The numbers are impressive. But how can we be certain that all of the eligible candidates will take part in the elections?

Conflicting rules and regulations is one of the dilemmas facing the local leaders, which could be the factor dissuading candidates from taking part in the elections. The sooner we straighten the matters concerning rules related to the local government elections, the better it will be. Otherwise, there could be the possibility of people undermining the rules. And that will make things more complicated.

The election commission has also started voter education in the gewogs. Voter education is an important part of electoral process to ensure that voters are ready and willing to take part in electoral politics. It rests largely on the educated voters to elect the kind of government that will benefit the communities and nation at large. But then, voter education does only half the job. What is critically necessary is that we also have civic education. The success of democracy lies on active and informed involvement of citizens.

Are we doing enough?

We have a good number of people with FLT certificates. We must make sure that they take part in the elections.

Civil society organisations should step up and play their part. Providing civic education is not necessarily election commission’s mandate. Offices and agencies could support the commission in the manner they can. What lies at the heart of all these is the need to engage the citizens to choose their own government.

It is vastly significant that we prepare voters and citizens so that electoral process succeeds. Only then will our democracy be a success.

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