Incumbent loses by a huge margin

The mood was relaxed at the office of the returning officer in Semtokha when counting started with the postal ballots. The first few envelopes had Tshewang Rinzin’s name. When it continued, the other contestants hid their concern with a joke.

“Please share some with us. You are taking all the votes,” joked one of the contestants. When the final count was announced, former Thimphu dzongdag won the most. He had 444 of the total 1,118 postal ballots cast.

The candidates left for home after the postal ballots were declared and decided to learn about their electronic voting machine (EVM) results at home. But the postal ballots had made the difference in Thimphu. Tshewang Rinzin’s 444 postal votes took the total votes to 2,117 winning him a seat in the National Council. Tshewang Rinzin from Dazhi, Kawang gewog served as the Thimphu Dzongdag before he resigned to contest. 

“I did not at all expect that I would win but I gave my best and I was surprised when I learned through the media that I had won,” he said. “I resigned to contest because people had approached me and I’m glad I kept their faith in me.”

Had it not been for the postal ballot, 33-year old Tshokey Dorji from Thim Throm would have won. He secured the highest vote on the polling day, 1,709 votes (EVM). He secured only 227 through postal votes. 

Thimphu’s incumbent Nima Gyeltshen from Chang gewog lost after he secured only 1,586 votes (both EVM and PB). The youngest candidate, 28-year old Sangay Tshering from Maedwang gewog received 1,214 PB and EVM votes. 

The former teacher Leki Tshering from Ge-nyen gewog managed to secure only 761 PB and EVM votes. 

Of the total 14,272 eligible registered voters in eight gewogs and Thimphu thromde, only 6,496 turned out to vote in the 28 polling stations according to the results declared by the returning officer yesterday. Of the total, 3,636 voters were female and 2,860 males. 

ECB arranged two voting booths for three stations at Jigme Losel PS, Loselling MSS, and Zilukha MSS that has the highest number of voters. 

The office of the returning officer received 1,181 postal ballots against the registered  1,763 for conventional and postal ballot facilitation booth. A total of 64 postal ballots were rejected because of invalid VPIC number, absence of witness detail and IDC form. 

Some of the representatives and officials shared that it was surprising to see some of the PB voted through facilitation were also rejected because of invalid VPIC number, which clearly shows that the polling officials were not careful and voters are at loss. 

As per the standard operating procedure and agreement from all the candidates, they decided to consider the ballots where some of the voters had ticked on the candidates’ picture instead of the empty box beside the picture. 

Yangchen C Rinzin