ECB will operate nine mobile facilitation booths to cater to those with special needs
Voting process for the National Council election begins today with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) opening postal ballot facilitation booths across the country.
The booths will remain open from 9am to 5pm for three days – April 12, 13 and 14. The booths, however, will cater only to those postal voters who have registered with the ECB for the facility.
Aimed at making the election more inclusive, the facility is one of the new changes in the voting process.
During the three days, ECB will also operate mobile facilitation booths that will cater to people with special needs.
ECB had initially developed braille ballots, but the commission felt that it might compromise the secrecy of voting since the number of people who might avail of the facility was small.
ECB’s head of Department of Election, Sonam Tobgyal, said, “There are only one or two visually impaired voters in each dzongkhag. In such a case, voter’s secrecy will be affected as it would be easy to remember who voted for whom.”
Sonam Tobgyal said that unlike in the past elections, a presiding officer would accompany the visually impaired and his companion to the voting compartment to ensure that the voter votes for the candidate of his choice.
According to ECB’s postal ballot unit, about 800 people with special needs, including prisoners, have registered for mobile facilitation booths.
Head of ECB’s postal ballot unit, Namgay Tshering said that the number of voters with special needs is small. There will be about nine mobile booths across the country.
Upon production of Voter Photo Identity Card (VPIC), polling officials will issue postal ballots to voters, who will then choose a candidate, seal the envelope, and cast it in a box.
Records with the postal ballot unit show that 59,749 people have registered to vote at postal ballot facilitation booths. They include public servants and students and constitute 67 percent of 88,915 registered postal voters from the 20 dzongkhags. ECB has set up 69 facilitation booths across the country.
In Thimphu, one of the places identified was the clock tower square, but the venue has been shifted to the Changlimithang parking lot. Male voters who had registered to vote at Phuentsholing Middle Secondary School will have to cast their postal ballots at Phuentsholing Lower Secondary School.
Trashigang has 5,233 registered postal voters, the highest among the dzongkhags. Gasa has only 89, the least.
All types of postal ballots must reach the office of returning officers by 5pm of April 19.
The ECB has also advised the voters to carry their CID along with the VPIC. The CID would be considered as a basis for taking decision by the presiding officer in the event of any dispute related to the identity of voter.