Samtse with 47,360 registered voters saw a voter turnout of 60.3 percent on the poll day of the primary election, making it the dzongkhag with the least voter turnout.

Of the total registered, 28,568 voted in the primaries.

Compared to the National Council (NC) elections this year, Samtse saw an increase by seven percent. In the NC elections, the dzongkhag that boasts of having the highest number of voters after Trashigang saw about 53.3 percent voters turnout.

Many Samtse residents term the primary round of election as “small election” and regard the general round election as “big” and important, according to election officials.

The election officer in Samtse, Tshering Phuntsho agreed that such notion among the people existed despite providing voter education prior to the elections. “They say primary round is small election,” the officer said.

However, considering the 2013 primary round election, Samtse still performed better. From the total 41,769 registered voters in 2013, a total of 23,067 people cast their votes during the primary. It was a 55.2 percent turnout. However, in the general round, the numbers increased and 29,917 people cast their votes in Samtse.

This time, one of the factors could be the weather during the primary round, many say. Another is expense as many from Samtse live across the country.

On the poll day on September 15, Kuensel met Genden Tashi, 62, in Tashichholing (Sipsu). He was staring at those people who were voting, unhappy, for missing a chance to cast his vote.

“I could have gone to vote in my place but the weather was not favourable,” he said.

Originally from Trashigang, Genden said he would have voted had he got a chance. Expecting facilitation booths were allowed to layman, he also had gone to meet the returning officer for an inquiry, he said.

“There are so many like me here,” Genden Tashi said. “We layman don’t get the opportunity; something should be done.”

Party coordinators have their own say on the matter.

A Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) coordinator in Samtse, Bali Raj Gurung said many families had said their relatives in other dzongkhags do not treat primary as important election.

“But primary is even more important,” he said, adding that the turnout would increase in the general round.

As party coordinators, Bali Raj Gurung said they have informed the villagers to convey the importance of primary round.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa coordinator Phurba Nidup said among those that did not vote in the primaries, there were at least 10 to 15 percent people who do not regard primary as important.

“But there are others who want to vote but miss the chance,” he said.

Although facilitation booths were availed by many away from their home dzongkhags, many in small businesses and organisations did not have the opportunity, Phurba Nidup said. One has to get the opportunity to vote from anywhere and any place, he said.

Across the country, 381,790 people were registered in 2013 and a total of 211,018 people voted in the primary round of election, which was about 55.2 percent voter turnout. This time, the country recorded of 66.3 percent overall turnout in the country.

Rajesh Rai | Samtse