Election officials in Tsirang are working extensively to achieve target of 99 percent voter turnout in the general election on October 18.

The target is 13 percent more than what was achieved in primary round on September 15.

Of the 23,696 registered voters in Tsirang, 86 percent turned up to vote through conventional postal ballot, facilitation booth and electronic voting machine (EVM) in the primary round.

Returning officer (RO), Sonam Penjor, said that soon after the primary election list of the voters who did not turn up to vote were segregated. At least 9,000 did not vote. Contact numbers of all those who did not vote were collected with the help of gewog administrative officer and tshogpas.

“We’re now calling and texting them individually, asking them to come and vote,” he said.

He added that there were only a handful of registered voters whose contact information could not be found.

The 99 percent target, he said, was set after talking to voters and on hearing the reasons for not being able to vote in the primary round. “Voters have assured they will definitely vote in the general round,” RO Sonam Penjor said.

Tsirang has not received any election related complaints so far. There is no record and report of any issues or arguments on the social media. This, officials claim, could be because of voter education and the coordination meeting held for supporters and coordinators.

Although Election Commission of Bhutan mandates only one coordination meeting before the election with all stakeholders for smooth conduct of election, Tsirang conducted another meeting with all party coordinators and representatives.

Another returning officer, Karma Dupchu, said that additional coordination meeting was “an extra effort” put in to ensure “problem reduction at the source”.

“Making them aware of do’s and don’ts will never give a room for any problems,” he said.

Just before the primary round of election, supporters and coordinators of all four parties were called for the coordination meeting. Four dzongkhag coordinators, 48 gewog coordinators and 240 chiwog coordinators attended the meeting.

“For a peaceful election process they are aware of what to do and what not to,” he said. He added that people knew how to use social media wisely. During the voter education sessions, voters were also made aware of using social media wisely.

“That’s how we don’t see any allegations here,” Karma Dupchu added.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang