Preparations are in full swing for the second phase of the second LG elections

Election: In a build-up to the second phase of the second local government (LG) elections, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is verifying the electoral rolls to ensure all eligible voters are registered to cast their votes.

The second phase of the LG elections are slated in July.

The electoral roll verification exercise is in full swing in most of the dzongkhags and is expected to be complete before the upcoming LG elections. “This is in preparation of the upcoming LG elections,” the officiating director of Electoral Registration and Delimitation, Sonam Tobgay, said. “This is also a regular exercise the ECB should carry out.”

The exercise is also expected to help ECB update the number of voters and educate them on the upcoming elections. “Our colleagues are travelling to different corners of the country to verify and update the electoral rolls,” he said.

The need to verify the electoral rolls have become necessary as some people have transferred their census while others have not been included in the electoral roll.

One common issue among voters is the polling station mismatch. There are voters whose census is registered in one chiwog and polling station in another.

For instance, about 47 eligible voters from six households in Pemathang chiwog, Gosarling gewog cannot cast votes in their own chiwog. According to their voter photo identity cards (VPIC), they have to travel to Zamlingzor ORC to cast their votes in another chiwog.

Another two households with about 18 eligible voters of Zamlingzor chiwog have their polling station at Phuntshogang.

They reside around Zamlingzor ORC polling station, but have to walk about two hours to reach the Phuntshogang polling station.

Following requests from the voters, Gosarling gup Kharka Bdr Tamang wrote to the dzongkhag election officer on March 1 requesting to correct it.

“There are old people who are interested to vote but can’t walk to the polling stations. If the VPICs are corrected, they could vote at the polling station beside their house,” gup Kharka Bdr Tamang said. “We already have less voters turning up and such an issue will just confuse them.”

The ECB will also register people who have attained the age of 18 years. “A number of young people would have turned 18 years and will be eligible to vote,” Sonam Tobgay said. “There are also religious personalities who have become farmers and are now eligible to vote,” he said.

People aspiring to contest the upcoming LG elections are also being encouraged to take part in the functional literacy test (FLT) that will be held on April 30. FLT centres will be taken to gewogs to make it easily accessible to the people.

The test will be conducted in all 205 gewogs and 17 dzongkhag thromdes.

Additional reporting By Nirmala Pokhrel, Gelephu

MB Subba