As Bhutan prepares to head to the polls to elect the 20 National Council (NC) representatives on April 20, preparations are happening at dizzying speed, but with utmost care. Polling officials are being trained and deployed to their stations. 

With more informed voters now, who look for the quality of representatives rather than kinship and familiarity, the fourth NC election promises to bring highly perceptive and vocal representatives to the House of Review.

Haa deploys 40 officials today for poll day

Polling officials in Haa were learning to use EVM during the refresher course

Chhimi Dema

Yesterday, the Office of the Returning Officer (RO) in Haa held a refresher course for polling officials from Sambay and Gakiling gewogs.

Today, 40 officials will leave for the polling stations in the two gewogs.

The refresher course for Samar, Uesu, Biji, and Kartshog gewogs will be held today.

The dzongkhag has 21 polling stations across six gewogs with a total of 8,448 eligible voters.

Eighty-four officials will be deployed for the National Council (NC) elections on April 20.

The Returning Officer, Sonam Thinley, said that the refresher course was necessary to prepare polling officials for polling day. During the course, officials were briefed on conducting mock polls, their roles and responsibilities, arrangements, polling station layout, submission and relaying of results, provisional voting, assisting physically-challenged voters, filling out electoral forms, and sharing the electoral roll.

The officials carried out an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) demonstration.

The dzongkhag administration arranged pool vehicles for officials to be deployed to polling stations.

Of the 8,448 eligible voters, 1,516 requested postal ballots—14 from overseas. However, the RO office has only received 1,308 postal ballots, including one from overseas.

On April 19, Envelope A of the postal ballot will be opened, and Envelope B will be opened on April 20.

Two candidates are contesting in the upcoming NC elections: Ugyen Namgay and Dago Tsheringla.

Dago Tsheringla, 45, from Samar, served as a principal of Jampel HSS and Drujeygang HSS, and has worked for 18 years in the education sector. He has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management from India.

Ugyen Namgay, 39, from Sangbaykha, resigned as a senior analyst from His Majesty’s Secretariat in 2018 to contest in the NC elections. He has a Master’s degree in Public Policy with a specialisation in Development Policy from the Australian National University.

9,900 postal ballots have reached Mongar 

Officials counting postal ballots in Mongar yesterday

Thinley Namgay 

Mongar expects to receive 95 percent of postal ballots for 2023 National Council election.

As of yesterday, the office of the returning officer (RO) for the upcoming National Council (EC) election in Mongar had received 93 percent of the postal ballots from various places across the country.

Out of 10,658 postal ballots sent, 9,900 have reached Mongar.

Officials are currently counting postal ballots.

Preparations for the election are on track. A refresher course for election officials will be held today at the Mongar MSS.

A total of 538 officials will be deployed to various polling stations on April 19.

Mongar has 17 gewogs and a thromde with 38,157 eligible voters. Mongar Gewog has the highest number of eligible voters – 3,993.

The dzongkhag has 72 polling stations.

Residents say that all seven candidates are equally capable.

Wangdue prepares for NC elections

Jigmi Wangdi 

As the fourth National Council (NC) election draws near, Wangdue is preparing for the big day on April 20.

With 45 polling stations set up across 16 gewogs, the dzongkhag is gearing up to welcome voters.

The number of returned postal ballots is yet to be determined as the deadline for receiving them is April 19.

A total of 4,064 postal ballots were sent out to eligible voters. Ahead of the polling day, the 48-hour No-Campaign Period will be observed, disallowing activities related to political campaigning.

Wangdue has five candidates for NC elections this year.

To ensure a smooth and fair election, polling officers will also undergo refresher courses before they are dispatched to their respective stations.

Zhemgang is ready for NC poll day

An election official demonstrating opening of EVM machine in Zhemgang

Ugyen Dorji 

Zhemgang has completed a one-day refresher course for polling officials, presiding officials, and security personnel in preparation for the National Council election.

During the course, officials were briefed on roles and responsibilities, code of conduct, and the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Election officials demonstrated the usage of EVMs during the course.

The course was conducted in two areas, Panbang and Zhemgang.

Officials have confirmed that all stakeholder meetings have been conducted and they have promised to provide support for a successful election in Zhemgang.

More than 160 polling officials have been deployed across 40 different polling stations in upper and lower Kheng, along with enough security personnel.

Backup EVMs have been provided in case of malfunction.

The election office has arranged for vehicles to deploy polling officials in the respective stations.

Polling officials and security personnel assigned to far-flung polling stations will move today morning.

Of the 6,215 registered for the postal ballot, the office of the returning officer (RO) has received 5,650 ballots as of yesterday evening.

About 566 postal ballots are expected to arrive before the poll day.

The RO office has received seven of the 24 postal ballots from overseas voters.

Election officials said that they would accept postal ballots until the morning of April 20.

Meanwhile, election officials started opening postal ballot envelop A on April 16

Zhemgang has eight gewogs, five aspiring NC candidates, and 20,522 eligible registered voters.