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The people not only voted for change this primary round of the national assembly elections. The way they voted has also changed.

In the first primary election where 82 percent of the total votes were cast on the electronic voting machine (EVM) and 18 percent through postal ballots, the second round saw 62.7 percent of the total votes cast through the EVM and 37.3 percent through postal ballots.

According to ECB results, of the total registered postal voters, 81.15 percent cast their votes while 59.86 percent of the registered EVM voters voted on poll day. The voter turn out of 66.36 percent today is an increase of 11.09 percent from the 55.27 percent in 2013. The country also saw about 80,000 more voters exercising their choice this time round compared to the first primary round five years ago. But the primary round saw 6,633 more voters than the national council election in April, this year.

A total of 291,098 Bhutanese voted in the tightly contested primary round on September 15. Of this, 182,518 walked to the 865 polling stations set up across the country while 108,580 votes were cast through postal ballots.  On an average, each polling station saw about 211 voters on poll day, about 23 voters every hour between the polling hours from 9am to 5pm.

At 94,566, the poll day saw more female voters at the EVMs compared to the 87,952 male voters. However, there were more male postal ballot voters. Against the 52,504 postal female voters, the primary round saw 56,076 male postal voters.

Among the dzongkhags, Bumthang saw the highest voter turnout at 76.68 percent while the least was recorded in Samtse at 60.32 percent.  Bumthang, Dagana, Gasa, Paro, Punakha and Wangdue saw more than 70 percent voter turn out while the remaining 14 dzongkhags saw an average voter turnout of 65.5 percent.

Samtse has the second highest number of registered voters after Trashigang and is considered a significant dzongkhag politically. But on poll day, of the 47,360 registered voters, 28,568 cast their votes, making it the dzongkhag with the least voter turn out. In terms of numbers, it is still the second highest. Trashigang saw the highest number of voters on poll day at 31,574.

The way the people voted, on EVM and through postal ballots made a difference to the four political parties that contested the primary round.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), won 92,722 votes of the total votes cast, taking 31.85 percent of the total votes. It won more EVM votes than postal votes. Of the total votes it won 55,166 (59.49 percent) were cast on EVM and 37,556 (40.5 percent) through postal ballots.

From the total votes though, DNT won 30 percent of the EVM votes and 34.5 percent of the postal ballot votes.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), which came second in the primary round, won 90,020 of the total votes cast in the country. Of this, 53,108(58.9 percent) were EVM votes and 36,912 postal votes (41 percent).

When calculated from the total votes, DPT won 29 percent of the EVM votes and 33.9 percent of the postal ballot votes.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won the highest number of EVM votes among the four parties. With 56,180 votes, 70 percent of the 79,883 total votes it won were on the EVM.  It, however, won the least number of postal votes at 23,703, making 29.6 percent of the total votes it secured.

Overall, PDP won 30.7 percent of the EVM votes and 21.8 percent of the postal votes.

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP), which won a total of 28,473 votes received 18,064 EVM votes (63.4 percent) and 10,409 postal votes (36.5 percent). From the total votes cast, BKP secured 9.8 percent of the total EVM votes and 9.5 percent of the total postal votes.

According to the election commission’s press release, a total of 479 common forums were organised for campaign by all political parties, where a total of 40,370 (20,535 female and 19,835 male) voters attended.

Excluding security personnel and the permanent officials of the ECB, the commission deployed 5,250 officials for the national assembly elections.

Sonam Pelden

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