ECB’s new rubric warmly welcomed

ECB declares National Council Poll Day 

Counting of Results will be on same day

On February 16, 2023, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) declared April 20, 2023 as the poll day for the Fourth National Council (NC) Parliamentary Elections. The ECB notified that the notification calling for elections is issued in obedience with the Royal Decree issued by His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo on February 8, 2023 and in pursuance of Section 191 of the Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008.

From February 17, eligible postal voters should initiate registration for postal ballot and the last date for registration of postal ballot will be on 15th March. Commencement of Dhamngoi Zomdu process in the Gewogs/Dzongkhag Thromdes to select nominees will begin from 25th February according to the ECB’s notification.

The ECB’s naotification also states that the NC aspirant who, attends in person and secures the highest number of votes at the selection during the Dhamngoi Zomdu, called and conducted as per the Guidelines for Dhamngoi Zomdu of the Gewog/Dzongkhag Thromde for National Council Elections, 2023 will be declared the nominee of a Gewog/Dzongkhag Thromde. He/She shall file nomination as candidate to contest the National Council elections in that Dzongkhag.

The ECB will release the Draft Electoral Roll for claims and objections on 11th March and the last date for filing nomination will be on 13th March.

Scrutiny of nominations of candidates will be on 14th March. The respective Returning Officers shall undertake the scrutiny of the nomination papers filed by the candidates with intimation to the Election Commission. The candidates contesting the National Council elections should get their Asset Declaration attested by the Department of Election and Civic Education before filing nominations to the concerned Returning Officer as per the notification.

Application for Election Campaign Fund by candidates will also be on 14th March.  Election Campaign will begin on same day.

The ECB will release the Election Campaign Fund on 16th March, which is also the last date for withdrawal of candidature.

The Returning Officer, in consultation with the respective Election Coordinator and Security Coordinator shall arrange a common forum in each Gewog/Dzongkhag Thromde to provide the contesting candidates equal opportunity to address the electorate while reducing the necessity to call for public meetings in the Gewog or Dzongkhag Thromde by each candidate separately and thereby avoiding inconvenience to voters of attending multiple sessions.

Public debates for the National Council elections shall be conducted in the twenty Dzongkhags in collaboration with the BBS Television as per the Guidelines for Conduct of Public Debates during Parliamentary Elections, 2023.

Meanwhile, the public campaign fund shall be provided by the State as per Section 58 of the Public Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2008.  A candidate shall be allowed to spend only the amount provided by the State for his/her election campaign.

The ECB has also said that a candidate contesting the National Council elections and all concerned shall neither serve meals or refreshments, nor pay the general public or voters for attendance of election campaigns and distribute any freebies.

The last date for receipt of application for changes related to details from registered postal voters by Returning Officer and to initiate sending Postal Ballot to registered postal voters is on 16th March. 

Freezing of the Electoral Roll will be on 21th March while Election Campaign will end at 9 a.m. of 18th April. The last day for receiving postal ballots is 19th April. Counting of Results will be on the same day of polling. On April 21st, the results will be declared and submitted to His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo. Further, the Election Petition Period will begin from 21th April and end on 5th May. Certificate of Election will be issued on 27th April.

Meanwhile, 125 aspiring National Council (NC) candidates including nine female candidates from all dzongkhags have registered with ECB as of 15 February while eight incumbent NC members decided not to contest again for the upcoming elections.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu