Ballots will be counted in respective dzongkhags

Dechen Dolkar 

Upon approval from the national taskforce, officials of the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) are working in containment mode for the upcoming Khamdang-Ramjar bye-election.

ECB’s director of the Department of Elections, Sonam Tobgyal, said an election team of a desuup and election officer is collecting postal ballots of registered voters from door to door because of lockdown situation in some parts of the country.

He said that Bhutan Post was supposed to collect the postal ballots from the registered voters and send to the returning officers. “However, due to lockdown in some part of the country, Bhutan Post was not able to facilitate the service.”

The director said that the election officers are collecting the ballots in green and yellow zone dzongkhags. “We collected the ballots in 11 dzongkhags.”

There are 1,399 registered voters for postal ballot services in Thimphu alone.

“Eight teams in Thimphu has collected 1,175 ballots in four days,” Sonam Tobgyal said.

He explained that a team, consisting of a desuup and an election officer, collected the ballots from January 20 to 23 in Thimphu.

However, the director said that although officials are visiting door to door, some voters are not willing to come cast the vote. “Some voters’ mobile numbers are switched off. So we could not trace all the registered voters.”

He said that for red zone dzongkhags, ECB will also facilitate door to door services and collect the ballots.

Sonam Tobgyal said ECB is framing more stringent standard of procedure to operate in the red zone. “It will be operated within a few days.”

He said that postal ballots will be not sent to the constituency this time, but counted in the respective dzongkhags in front of representatives of the two political parties.

Meanwhile, the mobile voting booth in the constituency will be operated from January 26 to 28 in the constituency.

There are 101 voters registered for the mobile voting booth, 3,115 postal ballot registered voters, and a total of 10,075 registered voters in the constituency.

The bye-election is on February 3.