The returning officer’s (RO) office in Nganglam temporarily postponed mobile voting for the bye-election, as the drungkhag Covid-19 task force (DC-19TF) declared a three-day blackout in the locality on June 19.

The task force announced the blackout after detecting two Covid-19 positive cases from Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited’s (DCCL) containment area.

The mobile voting facility was supposed to start yesterday until June 25.

The RO, Sonam Tobgyal, said they could not implement mobile voting facility in the five polling stations as planned, as they could not deploy polling officials.

He said that although the election is important, they respect the safety measures and order issued by the DC-19TF. “We have to be mindful of the safety protocols of the people, which is also the national priority at the moment.”

Sonam Tobgyal said mobile voting would depend on the outcome of the mass testing after 72 hours.  

He said they would increase the number of polling officials to compensate for the blackout days, as they trained two backup teams. “The other option is to postpone the poll day if the blackout hours extend.”

According to the RO, mobile voting is mainly designed to facilitate senior citizens and voters living with disabilities to vote. “Officials would visit every household and set up voting booths where voters can come out and cast their votes.”

The RO office registered about 203 people above 65 years and voters living with disabilities for mobile voting and issued 39 overseas postal ballots.

The office registered 2,669 postal ballots and issued 2,665 ballots. Four were rejected because of improper addresses.

The two candidates stopped their campaign on June 19.

Meanwhile, of the 983 samples collected during the mass testing on June 20, 509 tested negative on the RT-PCR, and 474 results are still pending.

By Kelzang Wangchuk | Nganglam

Edited by Tashi Dema