As part of their preparation for the third National Assembly elections, dzongkhag election offices have started inviting eligible postal ballot voters for registration.

Registration of postal voters is completed before the election period, as per the postal ballot rules and regulations. Any registration after the announcement of the elections is considered on a case-by-case basis only.

According to a notification issued by the election office in Samdrupjongkhar on July 5, the last date for registration is August 10.

Those voters who registered for the National Council elections need not register again, it stated in the notification.

“As the nation prepares for the third National Assembly elections, this office urges each and every voter to participate and exercise their franchise as an opportunity to fulfill the sacred and natural responsibility through tshornang,” stated ECB.

The ECB has asked agencies and eligible voters to choose either of the convention postal ballot or the postal ballot facilitation both, depending on their convenience. The facilitation booths were introduced in the last National Council (NC) election.

As per the postal ballot rules and regulations, those eligible to vote through postal ballot are civil servants, their spouses and dependents. Students and trainees, diplomats, ambassadors and officials working abroad will also be eligible to vote through postal ballots.

Also, the Election Act 2008 allows ECB to extend the postal ballot facility to any other group of voters in consultation with the government.

Accordingly, the ECB has provided the postal ballot facility to not only overseas Bhutanese and those involved in the tourism and hospitality sector but also to some large private companies. However, members of business community say that the facility should be extended to them as well.

The ECB considers application from new groups of voters for postal ballot facility case-by-case by looking at their profession. The head of the company must apply to the ECB for consideration of postal ballots.

In the last National Council elections, a total of 88,915 public servants and students among others had registered as postal voters from the 20 dzongkhags. Out of the total, 59,749 had registered to vote at postal ballot facilitation booths.

The aim of providing the postal ballot facility is to provide equal opportunity to voters who cannot be present at the polls to cast their vote.

The incumbent National Assembly held its first sitting August 2, 2013. Accordingly, the National Assembly will finish its five-year term by August 1, 2018.

A new government must be in place within 90 days after the dissolution of the government, as per the Election Act 2008.

MB Subba