There were a total of 411,780 registered voters as of May 8, 2017

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is currently carrying out public hearing in 20 dzongkhags on the draft delimitation plan for National Assembly constituencies.

Delimitation exercise is carried out every 10 years to review and to carve out additional constituencies if necessary based on the number of voters. However, the delimitation commission has proposed to maintain the existing 47 constituencies unchanged.

A recent notification from the election commission states that any change in the number of seats had to be carefully considered. The delimitation commission found no compelling reasons against the implications of foregoing benefits from existing integration of the administrative and the representative units as well as confusion and possible inconvenience to the general public.

The delimitation exercise was carried out based on the population as of May 8, 2017, when the number of total registered voters was 411,780. This is an average of 8,761 voters per constituency.

According to the delimitation rules, there should be at least 10,000 registered voters to carve out a constituency. However, the election commission notification states that there can still be a constituency with less than 10,000 voters if there are other compelling reasons.

“The delimitation commission, in view of these considerations, proposes to retain the existing numbers and territorial boundaries of the National Assembly constituencies in the 20 dzongkhags,” the notification stated.

The electoral boundary and names of each of the National Assembly constituencies are drawn in relation with the ground features and the existing gewog administrative boundaries.

This proposal to maintain, without change, the existing number of seats and territorial boundaries of the National Assembly constituencies are explained to people in their respective dzongkhags for information and feedback.

As per the procedure, the ECB issues the final draft after completion of the public hearing. The first-ever delimitation order was issued on March 26, 2007.

Trashigang is the largest dzongkhag by population with 74,036 people followed by Samtse with 66,410 but vice versa in terms of the number of registered voters.

Samtse, which has four seats, has 44,957 registered voters, while Trashigang with five seats has 44,525. Three constituencies in Trashigang – Radhi-Sakteng, Thrimshing and Wamrong – do not meet the threshold of 10,000 voters.

The delimitation commission states that by the standard of their population size, the existing number of seats in Trashigang could be considered for reduction. However, it justified that no change was found considering the implications on the administrative units and accessibility within the constituency.

Mongar and Pemagatshel have three seats each, but none of the constituencies in the latter meet the threshold of 10,000 registered voters.

Pemagatshel has a total of 25,503 voters. However, the delimitation commission stated that it was necessary to retain the gewogs in the Nganglam drungkhag as a separate constituency to reflect the administrative unit.

The rest 16 dzongkhags have two seats each but do not meet the minimum threshold of 30,000 voters to create additional seats. Population of some dzonghkhags is below 20,000 but a dzongkhag must have at least two seats as required by the Constitution.

MB Subba