The Paro Dzongkhag Tshogdu will write to the Election Commission of Bhutan to continue the postal ballot facilitation and mobile facilitation booths for the upcoming elections. The DT members say the move would help increase voter turnout. The postal ballot facilitation and mobile facilitation booth facilities were removed during the recent National Council Elections.
The Shari Gewog Mangmi Kinley Wangmo raised the concern in the House.
All the other members of the DT unanimously supported the Mangmi and decided to write to the Election Commission to enable postal ballot facilitation and mobile facilitation booths in future elections.
The postal ballot facilitation and mobile facilitation booths were introduced during the 2018 Parliamentary elections and the third Local Government Elections in 2021.
Records with the district election office show that Paro’s voter turnout dropped from almost 60 per cent in the 2018 NC Elections to 57 per cent this year.
There are almost 21,000 registered voters in Paro.
“When we went around in the villages, the elderly ones told us that they were not able to cast their votes during the National Council Elections, last month. The right to vote and choose a leader of their choice is a gift from His Majesty the King. Moreover, elections will become inclusive if the needs of elderly and disabled people are also considered,” said Kinley Wangmo, Dopshari Mangmi.
“We request the commission to continue the same facilitation facilities and services that were available during the Third Local Government Elections. To strengthen the foundation of democracy and choose the right person, we must have maximum participation in the electoral process from all sections of the society,” said Tshering Dorji, Dzongkhag Tshogdu Chairperson.
The District Electoral Officer Chimi Yuden informed the meeting that the facilitation booths provided during the Third Local Government Elections was a one-time measure.
She said that it was done to adhere to Covid-19 pandemic protocols. She added that the Constitution and the Election Act mandates votes be cast through an electronic voting machine and postal ballots only.
However, she said that the matter will be discussed in the Learning From Experience meetings that the commission organises with different stakeholders after every election.
Namgay Wangchuk, Paro
Edited by Sherub Dorji