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Final: The Election Commission of Bhutan declares the official results of the primary round yesterday
Final: The Election Commission of Bhutan declares the official results of the primary round yesterday

ECB asks DNT and DPT to nominate candidates

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has called the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) to nominate their candidates to contest for the general elections starting today.

During the declaration of the primary round results yesterday, chief election commissioner, Chogyal Dago Rigzin said DNT and DPT, as the two political parties that secured the highest and second highest votes, will now have to nominate the candidates for the 47 constituencies to the respective returning officer (RO).

The last date for filing the nominations is September 21.

The ECB issued a notification on August 20 stating that by September 22, scrutiny of the nominations of the candidates would start and candidates would start submitting the application for election campaign fund.

It also stated that the campaign for the general round would commence on September 22 after the ROs accept the candidature.

The commission scheduled September 24 as the last date for candidates to withdraw their candidature, receive applications for changes related to details of registered postal voters.

The postal ballot facilitation or mobile booth will be operated from October 10 to 12.

The ECB spent Nu 28.200 million (M) on the primary round election. “The parties were also permitted to spend an equivalent amount from the party coffers, as parties declared the bank balances while filing the letter of intent (LoI).”

ECB has asked the DNT and DPT to continue reporting and submitting weekly election expenses that are verified by observers.

A press release from the commission stated that the campaign fund for the general election would be released as per schedule only upon fulfilment of the weekly reporting requirement.

“The two parties and candidates shall, thereafter, file the election returns separately for the primary round and general election, as required under the laws within 30 days of the declaration of general election results,” it stated.

The last date of filing it will be on November 19.

The commission also asked the four parties that participated in the primary round to file the returns of election expenses of the primary round to the concerned dzongkhag electoral office or to the public election fund division with 30 days, before October 16.

Meanwhile, with a total of 291,098 voters voting on the electronic voting machine (EVM) and postal ballots, the overall voter turnout was 66.36 percent.

Of the total votes cast, 182,518 votes were cast in person on the EVMs in the 865 polling stations and 108,580 votes through postal ballots. In the primary election, more women voted than men. The total number of female voter turnout was 147,070 (50.5 percent) whereas the male voter turnout was 144,028 (49.5 percent).

Although male voter turnout was more in postal ballot with 56,076 (51.6 percent) availing the facility, only 52,504 (48.4 percent) women voted through postal ballot. More women voted through EVM than men. While 87,952 (48.2) male voted through EVM, 94,566 (51.8 percent) female voted on EVM.

Issues

ECB’s press release stated that there were few cases of people, who turned up to vote at the polling stations but could not vote as their names were registered as postal voters and not on the polling station voter’s list. But reports from dzongkhags indicate that there were many people who couldn’t vote because of the voter list problem.

At the ECB head office in Thimphu, many walked in to charge officials for registering them as postal voters without their knowledge. ECB officials clarified the graduates, who registered for postal ballots during their national graduate orientation programme (NGOP), were the ones who complained.

“If they didn’t register, officials here will not know their details,” an official said. “They should have also checked during the claims and objections period to check the electoral roll and voters’ lists.”

Officials explained that voters, who missed the opportunity to vote because of the registration problem, could change the postal address and the facilitation booth until September 24.

Chief election commissioner said that five polling stations encountered technical glitches. “These were immediately addressed as per the remedy in the EVM manual. Polling officials used the spare EVMs,” he said.

He explained that an EVM at Thangza polling station in Lunana gewog encountered problem around 3pm while reading the voter turnout.

ECB press release stated that as the EVM’s display section could not read the numbers and no records were found, they had to conduct a re-poll using the spare EVM machine.

“The voters, who had cast their votes earlier were called again as new polls began. The poll time was extended and the results were declared around 8pm.”

Tashi Dema

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