A total of 59,749 people have registered to vote at postal ballot facilitation booths in the upcoming National Council (NC) election, making the facility the most popular with eligible postal voters.

The number includes public servants and students, and constitutes 67 percent of 88,915 registered postal voters from the 20 dzongkhags.

Election commission has decided to set up five more additional postal ballot facilitation booths because of the large number of people choosing the method to vote. The initial plan was to set up 64 such booths.

Thimphu will have 10 booths at various places including at Royal Thimphu College and Democracy House at Kawajangsa. One of the places initially identified was the clock tower square, but the venue will be shifted to the Changlimithang parking lot.

No electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used, and voting is similar to the conventional voting in many countries, including India.

Upon production of Voter Photo Identity Card (VPIC), polling officials will issue postal ballots to voters, who will then choose a candidate, seal the envelope, and put it in a box.

ECB’s head of postal ballot unit, Namgay Tshering, said the booths would remain open on April 12, 13 and 14.

“People can go and vote on any of these three days from 9am to 5pm. However, they must carry their VPIC and produce it at the facilitation both,” he said.

Overall, the total postal voters comprise slightly over 20.5 percent of the country’s total voter population of 432,030.

In its effort to make the election more inclusive, ECB will also operate mobile facilitation booths for prisoners and people living with disability. About 837 people have registered for this facility.

Mobile facilitation booths will be provided as special service for those with special needs or for large number of postal voters in one place such as schools and projects.

A total of 28,329 people have registered for the conventional postal ballot. This includes 1,964 overseas voters.

Dzongkhag-wise, Trashigang has 5,233 registered postal voters, which is the highest among the dzongkhags. Gasa has 89, the least.

Namgay Tshering said that all types of postal ballots must reach the office of returning officers by 5pm of April 19.

ECB, he said, had appointed representatives to coordinate and collect postal ballots from overseas voters in cities where a significant number of Bhutanese citizens reside or study.

ECB bears the cost of dispatching postal voters to overseas voters but the voter must return the ballot at his own expense.

Namgay Tshering, however, added that voter would not have pay postal charges if it was handed over to the authorised representative.

ECB has also advised voters to carry their CID along with the VPIC. The CID would be considered as a basis for taking decision by the presiding officer in the event of any dispute related to identity.

The ECB yesterday notified that male voters who had registered to vote at Phuentsholing Middle Secondary School shall  cast their postal ballots at Phuentsholing Lower Secondary School.

MB Subba