Thirty-six-year-old Chimi Dema was one of the many mothers who turned up to cast their votes with a baby strapped on their backs. 

She left home at 8am to reach Bajo Higher Secondary School, where one of the three facilitation booths was located in Wangdue. 

When it was her turn to cast the vote, she hands over her two-month-old baby girl to one of the returning officers. Mothers with children some as young as one month old also came to cast their votes. 

Chimi Dema said that she had left her three other kids with her grandmother so that she could come and cast her vote. Most of the women voters at Bajo, Wangdue yesterday were families of the armed force at Tencholing. 

Rinchen, another mother who came with her one-year-old child said that it is difficult for mothers to go anywhere with a baby. “Having babies makes it difficult for us to participate in any kind of activities. But voting is really important for us to choose the best candidate.”

Election officials said that along with people with disability, the mothers were also provided preference to vote first. 

On the huge number of female turning to cast their votes with children, Tsheten Dorji, 29, said voters with kids might also have someone of their choice and wished for them to win. “They might want one of the candidates to win the election.”

Students of Technical Training Institute (TTI) at Samthang, Wangdue also joined the women to cast their votes at Bajo. About 1,516 out of a total of 4,023 registered for voting at the booth at Bajo cast their votes yesterday. According to election officials 933 of the voters were female. 

About 38 percent of the registered voters at facilitation booths at Wangdue voted on the first day. There are 6,421 registered voters at the three facilitation booths in Wangdue. About 2,450 cast their votes yesterday in the dzongkhag. 

The facilitation booth at Bjimthangkha saw 758 voters casting their ballot on the first day. A total of 1,970 people have registered to vote at the booth. 

Large number of voters working at the Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project turned to cast their votes at Bjimthangkha. 

Out of 428 registered voters at the facilitation booth at Gangtey, 155 people cast their votes yesterday. 

Punakha have set up two facilitation booths, one at Barp gewog centre and the other at Khuruthang TTI. The booth at Barp has 678 registered voters of which 84 turned up yesterday. Of 1,851 registered voters at Khuruthang TTI, 553 turned up to cast their votes. 

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue