Bhutan observes National Voters’ Day

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) shifted its focus on 2018 parliamentary elections with the celebration of the fourth National Voters’ Day in the dzongkhags yesterday.

ECB organised various programmes to observe the day under the theme “Mission 2018: Participation By All In The 3rd Parliamentary Elections”. The day coincided with the International Day of Democracy.

“This year, as ECB shifts its focus on the parliamentary elections 2018, this national event gives platform to renew our commitment to the vibrant democracy envisioned by our visionary monarchs and enshrined in our Constitution,” ECB in a press release stated. The primary objective of the day was to enthuse the citizenry and encourage them to engage meaningfully in the democratic process, it added.

ECB’s assistant information and media officer, Karma Wangmo, said that the celebration in Gelephu was attended by Commissioner Deki Pema.  Chief Election Commissioner, Chogyal D Rigdzin, graced the celebrations at Wangbama Central School in Thimphu.

As part of the celebrations, ECB distributed Voter Photo Identity Cards (VPICs) to the citizens who turned 18 years of age and those who transferred their census. People with old voter cards were also given new voter cards. Officials, however, said they were not in a position to provide the number of VPICs distributed during the day.

The day is also celebrated annually remind all voters of their importance and responsibility in a democratic society.

As part of preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections, ECB has plans to conduct seminars for aspiring NC candidates and has notified them to register with ECB’s Department of Civic and Electoral Training or with the respective dzongkhag election office by September 20. ECB will work out the exact dates and venues based on the registration.

Bhutan Accreditation Council also has notified that the registered political parties and the aspiring candidates to start processing for recognition of qualifications for the upcoming parliamentary election 2018 at the earliest.

BAC has notified the recognition application must reach the Secretariat Office at least two months before the deadline set by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) for filing of nominations. “Any applications received thereafter shall not be entertained.”

According to ECB, the current members’ term of office would complete on May 9, 2018. The election process will begin from February to ensure that the third NC is reconstituted on May 10.

All government agencies, autonomous bodies, corporations, private offices, religious organisations and the general public have been notified to avoid organising programmes and activities involving public gathering within the period of February to May.

MB Subba