None  can vote in an election, anywhere, on mere residency

The third Dzongkhag Thromde Elections in three Dzongkhag Thromdes in the Kingdom are ongoing with polling on April 28. A few writers were found outrageously instigating through Kuensel, without really understanding the rationale of the existing laws, that every resident of a thromde be allowed to vote.

The primary purpose of democracy is for providing good governance for its citizens. It can be made possible through electing a responsible representative in an election. Thus the very basic duty of a citizen eligible to be a voter is to make certain to register as a  voter at a place where it would matter most to him/her. Merely being a resident of a thromde does not entitle anyone the right to vote in any election automatically in any country leave alone in Bhutan.

It is desirable that an eligible voter has the right to choose the place where he/she wants to register as a voter. Generally, it ought to be a place where one lives or to or brings up a family and/or make a career and/or have one’s larger investment. And more so if s/he has an interest to contest an election as a candidate either as a registered member of a political party or independent.

As urbanisation is a recent phenomenon in Bhutan, it is a fact that only a small number of residents in the Dzongkhag Thromde except the original farming residents have registered as voters. Most national residents of the dzongkhag thromde had preferred to retain their civil registry at the place of origin rather than at the municipality of residence. It is their constitutional right and choice or face the consequence of such a decision, given that under existing laws to exercise one’s franchise under the laws one must register as a voter in a dzongkhag thromde.

If the reason may for the bureaucratic hassle that had dissuaded or discouraged or in-abled a voter, the Bhutanese Election authorities are always ready to go out of their way in felicitating the transfer of civil registry. But observing from my experience, many who are residing in dzongkhag thromdes having their civil registry in other dzongkhags continues to choose not to be interested or failed to seize the opportunity to avail the service.

Thus, it is not fair for any writer to irresponsibly and squarely fault the election authorities for the resultant personal lapses in the exercise of the authority under the Election Act 36 (a) and 36 (b), as no Thromde resident who is a registered voter interested to cast the vote is deprived of his/her right to vote.

If one decides not to register or fails to register or is ineligible to be a voter that does mean residents were denied their right to vote. Also merely being a tax-payer one cannot enjoy the privilege or automatic right to be a voter in any democracy.  Nor any election is organized for mere popularity contest or to have a handsome voter turnout.

Contributed by:

Kunzang Wangdi,

(Former CEC)

Registered Voter of  Changangkha 

Thimphu Dzongkhag Thromde

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