Securing a landslide victory with 811 votes of the 1,946 total votes, Thimphu thromde nominated a 33-year old former private lawyer Tshokey Dorji as a candidate for upcoming National Council election yesterday.

An actor and executive director of a private firm, Sonam Penjor, 34 managed to secure 429 votes, and Gelephu-based entrepreneur Jamtsho, 34, secured 278 votes. Former Bhutan Broadcasting Service producer, Wangchuk Tobgay, secured 428 votes.

Thimphu thromde has about 7,667 eligible registered voters as per the draft E-roll.

Voters were made to vote in three different polling booths. Loseling and Babesa polling station voted together, Jigme Losel School and Changangkha together, and Decheling, Mothithang and Zilukah together.

Most of the voters had to also wait outside when the zomdu took place inside the multi-purpose hall of Zilukha Middle Secondary School because the hall was filled.

An official with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) reminded the voters of Loseling polling station to bring the VPIC card that mentioned Loseling polling station on the poll day because old VPIC is reflected as Changbangdu polling station.

Most voters said that they decided to come to vote to choose the right candidate, as there were four.

“If a person is your enemy but benefits the people and country without being biased, we should take an effort to come and vote for him,” Pema Lhaden, 63, from Babesa said. “Even if a candidate is your friend, but is not confident, we shouldn’t vote just for friend’s sake.”

However, not many voters were happy and said that the zomdu was a little disorganised because most were left confused. They could not find the entry for their respective polling booth despite the police personnel and officials reminding them repeatedly.

“I was quite upset because after standing in the queue for about 15 minutes and, just when my turn came to vote, I was told that I was in the wrong polling booth. Then I had to join the next line,” Jamtsho, a voter said.

Some of the voters, after looking at the long queue in the morning, decided to go home and return in the afternoon.

Voters who came before 3pm at the voting centre were given tokens and were allowed to vote after 3pm as the zomdu timing is scheduled from 9am to 3pm.

Those who came after 3pm were not allowed to vote. This is as per the ECB’s standard operation procedure.

Most of the voters who had to return expressed their frustration. They alleged that they were not informed about the token system in the morning when they came to vote.

Those who could not vote walked out arguing with election officials saying that they could exercise their franchise on the poll day.

One of the voters, Rinchen Zam, 50, said that although the voters were informed about the timing, they were not informed about the token system.

“If they give token and extend the time until 5pm, then they should give token to voters who come before 5pm,” she said. “This is like taking our rights away.”

A few voters managed to get token from relatives who had saved the token for them. Some said that the voting did not start exactly at 9am and so the closing time should have been extended.

However, the ECB official had informed the voters during the zomdu in the morning that they would issue token after 3pm. Since the hall was filled in the morning, most voters were also waiting outside. The official added that it would not be possible to start the voting at 9am sharp because they have to conduct the zomdu where they introduce the candidates and brief the voters before the voting starts.

Amidst the commotion, students of Zilukha Middle Secondary School flocked to the polling station for autographs of a few Bhutanese stars who had also come to cast their votes.

Ge-Nyen gewog on March 7 voted 40-year-old former teacher, Leki Tshering, with 213 yes votes and 21 no votes. Ge-Nyen gewog has 704 total registered voters.

There was not a candidate from Soe and Darkala gewogs, which held its zomdu on March 6.

Soe has 160 voters and Darkala 467.

Thimphu will complete its zomdu for the eight gewogs and dzongkhag thromde on March 13.

There are 27 polling stations in Thimphu.

Yangchen C Rinzin