Officials cautioned candidates not to declare their postal ballot results

Bumthang: More than 67 local government (LG) candidates and supporters flocked to the front of the Bumthang returning officer’s (RO) office in Chamkhar by 2:30pm yesterday to find out the results of the election.

But it was their mobile phones that provided candidates and supporters with the results.

Save postal ballot results, almost all the candidates knew their results through their mobile phones. Candidates had to call their representatives in various polling stations to know their electronic voting machine results.

Postal ballot counting in the RO’s office began by 2pm and it dragged on till almost 6pm. A mangmi candidate from Ura said counting the postal ballots took more than the expected time as they changed the standard for counting the postal ballot. “I participated in the former LG election and the counting for one gewog was conducted at one go,” he said. “But today, we were called in based on the post we were contesting for and that took a longer time.”

It was a very hush-hush affair and the candidates were cautioned not to declare their postal ballot results.

It was after 5pm when the candidates started calling their representatives in various polling stations to find out their results. Candidates, in groups, made calls, jotted down the votes of each candidate for the gup, mangmi and tshopa posts, and calculated the votes. “If only things were a bit organised here,” a tshogpa candidate said.

Most candidates congratulated and consoled each other and left the RO’s office by 6pm. It was only the results for Chumey gewog that was not informally known among candidates, supporters and officials waiting outside.

By 6:30pm, it was only the dzongkhag, army and police officials who were watching election results being declared on BBS TV based on what was updated on the Election Commission’s website. The television was placed on a table in a tent pitched in front of the RO’s office.

When BBS declared the results for Bumthang, officials were heard claiming that BBS had declared incorrect information and were seen running to the RO’s office. But no official statement was made.

Meanwhile, people of the four gewogs elected new gups and Chamkhar town residents also elected a new representative.

In Chumey, it was initially displayed on the ECB website that Jampel secured 409 votes and Kelzang Dorji secured 625 for the post of gup. Unconfirmed reports available from officials in Bumthang, however, claimed Jampel as the gup-elect with 694 votes, and with Kelzang Dorji securing 626 votes.

For the post of mangmi, Chundu Tshering secured 392 votes, followed by Phuntsho with 251 votes, Pema Gyeltshen with 231 votes, Phuntsho Wangchuk with 201 votes and Nawang Losel with 185 votes.

In Choekhor, Pema Doengyel got 906 votes for the gup post while former gup Sangla secured 579 votes. Pema Doengyel served as the gewog clerk for more than seven years.

Pema Tshering got 487 votes for the post of Choekhor mangmi, followed by Pema Tshering with 432 and Sangay Thinley with 384.

In Tang, Tashi Dorji is the gup-elect with 255 votes. His opponents, Dorji Wangdi, Ugyen Lhendup and Ugyen Nima secured 197, 180 and 150 votes respectively.

However, unconfirmed sources claimed Ugyen Nima is the gup-elect.

For mangmi, Dendula got 325 votes, Dorji Wangdi secured 246, Nawang Lhendup got 208 and the lone female mangmi candidate in the dzongkhag, Dechen Zam, obtained 166 votes.

In Ura, Khandu Wangchuk got 343 votes followed by Pema Wangchuk with 282  and Lhawang Dendup with 170.

For mangmi, Dorji Wangchuk obtained 334 votes. Khando Tshering got 280 votes and Tashi Penjor received 193 votes.

For Chamkhar thromde ngotshab, Ugen Sangye got 181 votes, followed by Karma Lekden with 171 votes, Kuenga with 157, Sangay Dakpa with 109 and Thinley with 49.

Kuensel was not able to verify the count as all officials and the RO were not willing to share information. Officials said they are still verifying and compiling the EVM votes from polling stations and would not be able to provide information until today.

Tashi Dema