LG: While the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has reached almost every gewog to spread the message of adult franchise, the commission has not been able to reach out to voters residing in Thimphu.

However, this will not be the case anymore.

The ECB through a notification has invited all members of the general public to the “open house” voter education programmes to be held over five consecutive Tuesdays in the Great Fourth Auditorium of Democracy House in Kawangjangsa, Thimphu.

The programmes will be held on May 24 and 31, June 7, 14 and 21 from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.

This programme is expected to benefit voters registered in other dzongkhags.

The open house programme is especially framed for the benefit of the Bhutanese voters residing in and around Thimphu who are not able to participate in the voter education programmes being conducted in every chiwog of the 205 gewogs.

The voter education programmes are aimed at enthusing voters and aspiring candidates to participate in the upcoming second LG elections.

It is an open house event and all are free to attend any of the sessions without registration.

The open house voter education programme is an effort to ensure the upcoming local government (LG) elections are a success. Low voter turnout in local government elections has been a concern for the ECB.

Only 31 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots in the first phase of the second elections held in January this year in Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu thromdes. Voter turnout decreased by 19.75 percent from the first thromde election in 2011.

The election will be held in July but the process will begin in June. Most of the serving LG members will complete their terms next month.

Lack of candidates with FLT certificates has been one of the main problems facing local government elections. The number of eligible candidates, however, will increase when the ECB declares the results of the recently conducted FLT on May 20.

There are 5,165 probable candidates who possess FLT certificates according to records maintained by the ECB.

The FLT was conducted in 205 gewogs and 17 dzongkhag thromdes for the second local government election this year. An FLT certificate is mandatory for those vying for the posts of gup, mangmi, tshogpa and thuemi.

Meanwhile, the ECB has also called aspiring candidates to prepare nomination papers for contesting the LG elections. The documents include asset declaration certificate, court clearance certificate, tax clearance certificate, audit clearance certificate and functional literacy test certificate issued by ECB, among others.

A candidate needs a university degree if they are aspiring for the post of thrompon.

MB Subba