People from eight gewogs of Samdrupjongkhar requested the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) to increase the number of constituencies in the dzongkhag.

The request was made during a public delimitation hearing of the National Assembly (NA) that the ECB held on December 20.

Lauri gewog mangmi, Tenzin Norzang, said that since the 11 gewogs were divided into two constituencies, people do not turn up for voting during elections because polling stations are far from their homes.

There are five gewogs in the Dewathang-Gomdar constituency and six in the Martshala-Jomotshangkha constituency.

He said that it would be helpful if the ECB could establish a separate constituency for Lauri, Serthi and Langchenphu gewogs in Jomotshangkha drungkhag since it is home to more than 5,000 eligible voters.

The gup also explained that ECB keeps changing voter cards and polling officers do not allow people who come with old voter cards to cast the votes. “It would be convenient if ECB allows the general public to cast their votes with the old cards during the elections.”

A resident from Phuntshothang gewog, Wangpo, said that since there are four gewogs in Samdrupcholing drungkhag, it would be helpful if ECB could establish a new constituency or would be better if Phuntshothang gewog could be merged with Martshala-Jomtshangkha constituency like other three gewogs in the drungkhag.

Other participants said that since villages are scattered, the elderly could not turn up for voting during elections. “It’s important to establish one more constituency in the dzongkhag so that all can cast their votes.”

However, the chief election commissioner, Chogyal Dago Rigdzin, said that all these issues were related to the rules of procedures and they should implement according to that.

He said that he has listed the issues and will put up in the upcoming delimitation commission (DC) meeting which will be held in December.

The chief election commissioner said there should be 10,000 voters in one constituency and to establish three constituencies, it’s important to have 30,000 voters in the dzongkhag. “Since there are only more than 23,000 voters in Samdrupjongkhar, it will be difficult to get three constituencies but I will put up the issue in the upcoming meeting.”

He said that although people feel that there was no difference in using identity cards to cast votes during elections instead of voter cards, there are problems when it comes to implementation. “But we will look at the possibility of using old voter cards.”

Meanwhile, the public hearing has been conducted in five dzongkhags so far. While discussing delimitation, the commission is also educating voters on the electoral process.

Chogyal Dago Rigdzin said that democracy should benefit people at all times and should not think of creating disharmony in the society for personal gains. He also highlighted the importance of having a good political party.

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar