The National Council election process this time was exemplary and every Bhutanese should be proud of the successful election, according to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Chogyal Dago Rigdzin.

Declaring the results officially on April 21, the chief attributed the success to a record voter turnout and good participation in the dhamngoi zomdues and the common forums. Of the six female candidates two got elected. A total of 177 candidates contested the dhamngoi zomdus of which 127 were nominated to contest in the final round.

Voter turnout this year increased by nine percent from 2013. The total number of registered voters also increased by 52,211 for this year’s election. In 2013 NC elections, the voter turnout was 45.16 percent. The first council election saw a voter turnout of about 53 percent.

Official records ECB released stated that of the 432,030 registered voters, 234,535 (115,809 female and 118,726 male) exercised their franchise. This means about 105,072 female and 92,432 male registered voters did not turn up to vote on the poll day. 

The highest voter turnout was postal voters, as of the 88,915 registered, 64,912 cast their ballots. 

Chogyal Dago Rigdzin said the postal ballot facilitation and mobile facilitation booths contributed to increased voter turnout. A press release from ECB stated that 275 postal ballots were rejected during the counting. Officials confirmed that these were postal ballots rejected from envelope B.   

However, a compilation of rejected postal ballots from the 20 dzongkhag returning officers indicates that about 2,548 were rejected or were considered invalid. 

ECB stated that there were no major problems in the polling stations except in Sidpa NFE polling station of Largyab gewog in Dagana, where the electronic voting machine (EVM) had to be replaced after the control unit showed press error. “However, 65 votes cast in that EVM was counted successfully and polls resumed smoothly.”

Chogyal Dago Rigdzin said ECB placed 1,800 EVMs in 866 polling stations and only one gave a problem.  He said the EVMs were procured in 2006 and were used since the mock elections. “The shelf-life for EVMs expired.” The CEC said ECB intends to procure about 1,000 EVMs before the National Assembly elections. 

The press release stated that 11 voters turned up in Pemaling gewog centre polling station of Samtse with old voter photo identity cards. “Election officials facilitated with timely issuance of new VPIC for them to exercise their franchise.” 

It also stated that 26 voters were included in the supplementary list to the final electoral roll since they were wrongly marked as religious personalities in the voter list. 

The press release also stated 289 dhamngoi zomdus were conducted where 63,216 (33,045 female and 30,171 male) voters participated and 313 common forums were conducted where 34,010 (17,945 and 16,065 male) voters attended.

ECB’s analysis show that 11 elected members are in their 30s, six in their 40s and three in 50s. “In terms of academic qualification, nine member-elects have masters and 11 have a bachelors degree.”

The third NC members will comprise of five incumbents, four with teaching experience, four from business background, three from civil service, and one each from media, law, entertainment industry and parliamentary experience in the National Assembly.

The NC election cost Nu 250 million (M) of which Nu 19.050 was disbursed to the candidates as campaign fund.

The election also saw eight disputes, of which one was lodged on poll day from Samtse. The cases were decided through election dispute system.

The election petition period started from April 21 and will end on May 8.

Tashi Dema