If postal ballots happen to be the deciding factor in today’s election in Paro, the six candidates vying for a seat in the National Council will wish if more people had used their postal ballot facility.

The election commission had issued 983 conventional postal ballots and another 1,509 people residing outside Paro had registered to vote at the postal ballot facilitation booths, but 902 people have not used their postal ballots. 

Of 983 conventional postal ballots issued, the office of the returning officer in Paro has received 795 ballots as of 5pm yesterday. 973 people out of 1,509 registered had not used their franchise at the facilitation booths across the country.

According to records with the office of the returning officer, Paro has 4,165 eligible registered postal voters from across the country currently residing in Paro. About 2,666 voters turned up at the four postal facilitation booths and mobile booth.

With all polling officials at their respective polling stations doing last minute checks, Paro is ready for the NC poll day today.

Except for some of the furthest polling stations, election officials including the returning officer and the observers made rounds to the polling stations yesterday to ensure everything is in place.

Election and polling officials said the EVM sets are again checked to ensure that they are functional.

Some of the polling officials were seen removing candidate’s posters on the information board that are located within 100 meters of the polling stations as it is the ‘No Campaign Period’ on the poll day and 48 hours before it.

The officials started opening envelope A of the received postal ballots from April 18 which are segregated based on gender and checked for identification declaration certificate (IDC).

Returning Officer Sherub Gyeltshen said during the opening of the envelope A, some of the ballots were rejected because the voters have put both the IDC and the ballot form inside Envelope B.

“If we open the Envelope B, then the voter’s secrecy is revealed which is not right,” he said.

Some of the voters did not have a competent witness, which means they are not an eligible voter while some voters did not have a witness.

“We check online if a witness is a registered or eligible voter,” he said. “Before starting to open Envelope A, we briefed the candidates on the grounds a ballot could get rejected. The rejected ballots are sealed in a box in front of representatives and observers.”

Sherub Gyeltshen said despite awareness on the postal ballots, it seems people still don’t understand it.  Postal ballots from the postal facilitation booths rarely got rejected because the polling officials guided voters, he added.

The dzongkhag has a total of 18,433 eligible voters, of which 9,649 are female.

Of the 32 polling stations in Paro, Dawakha School in Dokar gewog, Drugyel Higher Secondary School in Tsento and Jangsa-Rumna bridge in Dopshar-ri has more than 1,000 eligible voters. Tshendu Gang in Nagya has only 62 eligible voters, the lowest of all the polling stations.

The dzongkhag has not encountered any disputes related to the elections so far.

Dechen Tshomo