As the nation goes to the poll for the third time, the political parties will hit the campaign trail officially on August 22.

The campaigning ends on September 13, two days before the voters cast their votes at the 865 polling stations to choose the two parties for the general round, which will be held on October 18.

The commission issued the notification calling the primary election of the National Assembly on August 18 during a press conference at the Democracy House.

His Majesty The King issued the Royal Decree calling the elections to the National Assembly of the Third Parliament on August 17.

The commission’s notification states that parties and their candidates can neither serve meals or refreshments, nor pay, gift or reward the general public or voters for attendance of election campaigns or produce, wear and distribute T-shirts and or caps, among others.

Door to door campaign is allowed only between 6am and 6pm during the campaign period.

Chief election commissioner, Chogyal Dago Rigdzin, said that the commission was prepared with the required human resource trained and ready for deployment.

He said that through the numerous learning from experience programmes, the commission had made improvements to the system to better cater to voters and for efficacy.

“It cannot be static, that is why we have sought feedback and made changes wherever possible,” he said.   

With the poll day for the primary election falling within the monsoon season, rains could cause floods or landslide blocking roads. The chief election commissioner said that in case of situations of disasters on the poll day, ECB could use numerous options including deployment of even helicopters to enable voters to cast their votes.

“Because even a single vote is important,” he said.

The presidents of the parties will speak on the merits of their parties as they clash on the first public debate on August 26. The second debate is scheduled on September 2.

The common forum for the candidates in their respective constituencies will begin from August 27.

For those voting through post, the returning officers will not accept any changes to details after August 22.

The commission will open postal ballot facilitation booths and mobile booths on September 7. The booths will remain open for three days, except for the mobile booths, which will be open for a designated day.

For the general elections, for which the poll date has been set for October 18, candidates will file their nominations on September 17.

The parties will begin campaigning on September 22 and the public debate  will take place between September 25 and October 10. 

This episode of the elections will wrap up on November 6 with the completion of the election petition period.

Meanwhile, the political parties have until tomorrow 5pm to submit their letter of intent to the election commission.

The letter confirms the parties’ intention to participate in the Primary Round of elections to the National Assembly, Third Parliamentary Elections 2018 as announced by the ECB.

The letter has to attach a tentative list of 47 candidates. The parties will have to submit the website and all social media accounts or addresses of the party and candidates on the tentative list which shall be used for the elections.

Other documents include a financial statement as at the end of July, a list of party offices in dzongkhags and details of office bearers followed by a list of registered members by dzongkhag, and a copy of the election manifesto. All candidates on the tentative list cannot hold any office of profit.

With the issuance of the notification calling for elections, the registration for postal ballot has closed.

Tshering Palden