A total of 471 voters, including senior citizens, persons with disabilities and prisoners, registered to avail the mobile postal ballot facilitation booths

Chhimi Dema

Two sisters, Namo, 84, and Tsitsimo, 86, from Thimphu, were the first two people to vote at the mobile postal ballot facilitation booths (PBFB) in Changlungtoe yesterday.

Health protocols and advisories were followed in mobile PBFB.

The mobile PBFB allows voters to vote from locations or homes for the third thromde elections.

From 1,542 registered postal voters in the three thromde, 471 voters including senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and prisoners registered to avail the mobile PBFB facility.

Tsitsimo, 86, said that it was very convenient for the elderly to vote now. “I feel happy to exercise my right to choose thrompon and thromde tshogpa.”

Another voter, Dophu, 74, said that providing facility like this encourages voters to exercise their franchise.

The mobile PBFB facility will end today.

ECB media spokesperson, Phub Dorji, who is also the head of civic and electoral training department, said that since experts claimed people above 65-years-old are more vulnerable to the virus, ECB initiated the mobile PBFB facility.

A total of six teams comprising of two ECB officials, police and desuup in each team goes around providing the facility. ECB officials call every voter and inform the location and timing to avail mobile PBFB.

Phub Dorji said that registered voters from all sectors who stay out of the thromdes are provided with the conventional postal ballot facility. “The postal ballot facility was facilitated to minimise the movement of voters from place to place and thereby mitigate the risks of Covid-19.”

According to ECB, 244 postal voters will vote from 26 countries. The highest postal voter is from Australia with 142 voters followed by India with 25 voters.

Phub Dorji said that in Thimphu, there will be eight polling stations with one extra station in the Chang Bangdu-Olakha demkhong.  The demkhong has the highest number of registered voters.

In Phuentsholing and Gelephu, a demkhong will have a polling station.

According to Phub Dorji, the timing of the polling day was extended an hour in the morning and evening. “This is to ensure that people do not miss the opportunity to vote while following the Covid-19 health protocols.”

The polling stations will be open from 8am to 6pm.

Phub Dorji said that ECB is prepared and has everything in place in case of a lockdown.