Home Minister Dawa Gyeltshen has said that voters with the expired citizenship identity card (CID) who have processed for renewal can vote during the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“The ministry has discussed with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) that whether new or old, the commission will consider as long as people can provide the CID,” the minister said. “This is to make sure that the people given the right to vote.”

He added that the Department of Civil Registration and Census has submitted the details of the registered voters to the ECB and voter photo identity card (VPIC) is produced with the given details. “Even if the card has expired, it doesn’t mean you’re no longer Bhutanese, which is misunderstood by most people. Until they get the new identity card, they can use the old one.”

Minister said renewal of some CIDs was delayed because of the minor mistakes in the details given in the renewal application form. Similar issue was also raised in Zhemgang where more than 5,000 people are still waiting for new CID.

About 13,615 cards have already been printed, he said, and that the rest of the cards are being printed.

ECB’s media spokesperson, Phub Dorji, said that the commission would look into the validity of the VPIC, which is more important than the CID. “However, in some cases, we might have to refer CID to authenticate the identity of the voter if the VPIC is not clear.”

Voters have until March 21 to register to be able to vote.

Yangchen C Rinzin