Election: For a town of more than 10,000 people, Samdrupjongkhar has only 807 registered eligible voters. This, for the thromde, is a concern.

Deliberating on the issue and the need to increase the number of voters, members of the thromde tshogde asked if the election commission could allow property owners who have not registered to be allowed to vote during the upcoming thromde election.

It was also discussed if businesspersons who have been holding business licence for a certain number of years could be allowed to vote. The members, however, said that the candidates should be a registered voter of Samdrupjongkhar.

The issue was also raised during the mid-term review held this year where Prime Minister Tshering Tobgye recommended that the thromde tshogde deliberate on the issue and report to the office of the Election Commission of Bhutan.

The Prime Minister had earlier said that the small number of voters for a large population is a matter of concern and urged the people to vote on poll day because development of Samdrupjongkhar is important for the other six eastern dzongkhags.

Thrompon Karma Sherab Thobgyal, who won the last election by about 80 votes, said that if there are more voters it would give the winning candidate a sense of satisfaction. Only about 30 percent of the registered voters turned up during the last thromde election.

“More voters means equal distribution of votes among the candidates and we choose the right candidate,” said Karma Sherab Thobgyal.

He said that adding to the problem of a low number of voters only a few attend thromde meetings or public consultations because most of the people residing in Samdrupjongkhar town are registered in other dzongkhags.

“This is because most of the residents feel since they don’t have right to vote, they are least bothered about the developmental activities,” an official said. “So, if they are given electorate rights they would get involved in the developmental activities and the thromde can meet the people’s requirements.”

Only about 15 registered voters turned up to attend the voter education meeting recently conducted by the ECB.

Officials added that one way to uplift the thromde is to let the voters come forward and vote and increase the electorate by requesting people to transfer their census.

“We’re hoping that more than 50 percent of voters will turn up on poll day. We hope the government will look into the recommendations we made because this can be decided only in the Parliament,” said Thrompon Karma Sherab Thobgyal.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar