Dechen Dolkar 

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) spent about Nu 254 million (M) to conduct the third Local Government (LG) elections.

The expenses incurred include re-elections in both gewogs and thromdes. 

Records with the ECB show that the election expenses during the last LG election was lesser by about Nu 5M as ECB spent about Nu 259M in 2016.

During the elections, most expenses are made on travel allowance (TA) and daily allowance (DA) for the election officers. 

ECB deployed more than 5,600 election officers during the third LG elections, including 50 returning officers (ROs) and 51 national observers (NOs).

There were 1,128 polling stations across the country and each polling station has an average of five election officers.

ECB’s spokesperson, Phub Dorji, said it takes about eight days for the officials to travel to the polling stations. 

“There are some places like Lunana and Lingzhi where it takes two weeks to go and return,” he said. 

He said ROs and NOs are deployed for about two months during the election period. “They are deployed from the day the election is announced till the petition period ends.”

During the elections period, ROs and NOs are paid around Nu 130,000 to Nu 140,000. “ 

But ROs are overworked and underpaid. ROs have huge responsibilities and accountabilities during the elections,” Phub Dorji said.   

He also claimed that for the third LG election, they spent less due to cost-cutting measures despite the revision in the daily subsistence allowance for civil servants.

He said that the commission has cut down the expenditure wherever possible, including car polling among the election officers. “We have weighed whether it is cheaper to hire a car, provide mileage or use government pool vehicles.” 

He, however, said during the third LG election, the commission incurred expenses on the mobile voting booth for physically challenged voters and elderly voters. “A team of election officers went to collect votes in the remotest area even if there was one voter.”