The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) and Bhutan Post availed helicopter service to drop 53 postal ballots received from overseas yesterday.
The flight service cost Nu 530,805 to the ECB and Bhutan Post, as the total flight was 3 hours and 31 minutes and the helicopter service charged Nu 150,940 an hour.
ECB’s postal ballot unit head, Namgay Tshering, said they dropped the postal ballots received through diplomatic post to Bumthang, Mongar, Yongphula and Deothang yesterday afternoon.
He explained that Bhutan Post received a bulk of overseas postal ballots on October 17 and after sorting the ballots and sending them to dzongkhags that could be reached in a day from Thimphu by vehicle, there were 53 ballots left for eastern dzongkhags.
“For a small country like ours, one ballot also makes a difference for a candidate and we put the matter to the commissioners for an alternative way to deliver the ballots,” he said.
Namgay Tshering said since availing the helicopter service could be expensive for the commission alone, the commission requested Bhutan Post if they could share the cost. “Bhutan Post agreed on it as their corporate social responsibility (CSR).”
ECB and Bhutan Post then hired a helicopter on emergency yesterday morning and by noon the flight took off to Bumthang to drop off the postal ballots for Zhemgang.
While the ECB officials dropped the postal ballots in Bumthang, election officials in Bumthang and Zhemgang arranged vehicle and sent officials to transshift the ballots so that it could reach the returning officers before 5pm.
From Bumthang, the flight landed in Mongar where officials dropped off ballots for Mongar and Lhuentse. “There also vehicles were arranged to drop and pick up the ballots halfway,” Namgay Tshering said.
The third dropoff point was in Yongphula, Trashigang where all the postal ballots for the five constituencies in Trashigang and two in Trashiyangtse were dropped. Election officials of the two dzongkhags collected the ballots.
The final flight destination was in Deothang RBA helipad, where the ballots for Samdrupjongkhar and Pemagatshel were handed over to the election officials of the respective dzongkhag.
Namgay Tshering refuted the claim that a bag of postal ballots remained undistributed in the Bhutan Post during the primary round. “The maximum could be 10 to 15 that time. If there are more than 20, ECB would distribute it.”