Some people in Zhemgang suspected it would be an easy ride for the dzongkhag’s incumbent National Council member, Pema Dakpa, to sail through the elections.
With four gewogs each in upper and lower Kheng, Pema Dakpa had the edge since there were only two contestants from upper Kheng where as lower Kheng’s votes would be split amongst the three candidates.
Days before the poll day, many in Zhemgang said they wanted change. When the poll results were declared, people did vote for change, as the incumbent lost by about 165 votes to Dorji Cheten from Phangkhar gewog.
But it was the huge difference in postal ballot that played a big role in deciding the results. Pema Dakpa won by 622 votes than Dorji Cheten in the postal ballot.
It was also evident from the poll day results that people of the five gewogs of Bardo, Goshing, Nangkhor, Ngangla, Phangkhar and Trong voted for their own candidate.
Of the three gewogs of Bjoka, Shingkhar and Trong that did not have a candidate, Dorji Cheten won from Bjoka and Trong gewogs. Pema Dakpa only won from Shingkhar gewog that is the closest to his own gewog.
Of the 40 polling stations in Zhemgang, Pema Dakpa, managed to secure highest votes from the 13 polling stations.
The 49-year-old from Khomshar village in Bardo gewog secured 1,391 EVM votes and 1,248 postal ballot votes.
Dorji Cheten from Phangkhar gewog secured highest votes from 16 polling stations.
The 38-year-old secured 1,556 votes from EVM and 626 postal ballots.
Meanwhile, the overall voter turnout in Zhemgang increased this year. About 47 percent of Zhemgang’s eligible voters cast their votes this time compared to about 42 percent in 2013 NC elections.
Of 18,396 eligible voters in the dzongkhag, 8,802 (4,674 male and 4,128 female) people cast their votes this time whereas in 2013, of the 16,050 eligible voters, only 6,678 people had shown up to vote, which is a turnout of about 42 percent.
The assistant returning officer, Sonam wangchuk said there is a need to encourage more people to vote through postal ballot facilitation booth since there is less ballot rejection when the facility is availed.
“Some ballots sent through conventional postal ballot got rejected whereas none of the ballot sent through the facility booths got rejected.”
The dzongkhag received 3,433 valid postal ballots and 254 were invalid or rejected.
The people of Zhemgang say postal ballot facility should be provided to people working in private sectors too.
Ugyen Dorji | Zhemgang