After dispatching the overseas postal ballots, preparation of postal ballots for the facilitation booths is in full swing at the election commission headquarters in Thimphu. The commission will dispatch the ballots for the facilitation booths on October 5.

More than 102,000 registered postal voters, election officials said, are expected to vote at the postal ballot facilitation and mobile booths for the general elections, which would operate on October 10,11 and 12 from 9am to 7pm across the country. The primary round saw a voter turnout of 77.55 percent at the facilitation and mobile booths.

As of September 24, the commission has recorded a total of 2,055 changes made to postal ballot registration in all dzongkhags for the upcoming general elections.

A press release from the commission states that these include changes to vote in person at the designated polling station, at different postal ballot facilitation booths, changing postal ballot option or updating of postal addresses. The commission had notified the people to update their registration details on August 18.

Of the 2,055 changes, 963 were postal voters who had de-registered to vote at the polling stations and 1,092 had made other changes.

For the primary round, the commission states that returning officers received 110,538 postal ballot packages from the total 133,795 registered postal voters.

“This means that a total of 23,257 postal voters did not turn up at the postal ballot facilitation booths or did not return the postal ballots or posted the ballot too late to the returning officer,” the press release states. “Specifically 170 postal ballots have been received by Bhutan Post after the primary round poll day.”

Of the total 110,538 postal ballots received, 1,234 were rejected mostly due to no Identity Declaration Certificate (IDC) being enclosed by conventional postal voters and missing or wrong details in the IDC. Another 724 were rejected during counting on the grounds of being unmarked ballots or multiple marking on ballots without indication of clear choice.

“The election commission urges all conventional postal voters to pay attention while filling the IDC which requires only the bare minimum information and to enclose it after signing in the Envelope A, not in the Envelope B.”

The election commission requests all postal voters to send back the marked ballot to the Returning Officer at the earliest and those registered for the facilitation booths to turn up, without fail, on October 10, 11 and 12 from 9am to 7pm. All registered voters must carry their voter photo identity card when they come to cast their votes.

Unlike in the primary round where the commission operated mobile postal ballot facilitation booths at the Royal Thimphu College and the JDWNRH in Thimphu, commission officials said that this time the booths would remain open for on three days.

Officials also said that the commission has considered the request from Bumthang and Chukha dzongkhag administrations to extend postal ballot facility to the mask dancers, performers and local government officials who would be engaged during the poll day. Bumthang requested the facility for 44 people and Chukha for 18. The requests were made to the commission after the interim government directed the two dzongkhags to hold their deferred tshechus on the scheduled days.

Sonam Pelden