More than 2000 postal ballots rejected in primary round of elections

More than 2,000 postal ballots were rejected across the country during the primary round of elections this year.

A total of 133,795 voters had registered for postal ballot for the primary round of elections.

Around 1,300 postal ballots were rejected while sorting out envelope A and around 700 were rejected while counting envelope B during the poll day counting. Inside envelope A contains envelope B and Identity Declaration Certificate (IDC). Envelope B contains only the secret ballot paper.

The head of postal ballot unit of Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), Namgay Tshering said that the rejection of postal ballots while sorting envelope A which happens two days before the poll day was mainly because IDC in envelope A was missing as voters had sealed their IDC with the ballot paper inside envelope B.

He also said the other reasons for postal ballot rejection were that voters had incomplete and mismatching information in the IDC form while some voters had not signed, or did not have witness of a competent person.

Namgay Tshering said that rejection during the counting of envelope B during the poll day is mainly because of the some voters having unmarked or multiple tick markings.

He said that the most common issues of rejections were due to multiple marking and packing IDC with envelope B.

“Though we create awareness on process of sending postal ballots, still there are rejections of the postal ballots because some of the voters are careless,” he said.

However, he said as compared to previous elections the rejection of postal ballots were less because of the facilitation booth. Presiding officials helped the voters to place and seal the envelopes.

“There were also few rejections from facilitation booths because of multiple markings,” Namgay Tshering said.

In case of overseas postal ballots, the commission has appointed authorized postal ballot focal officers where there is more number of Bhutanese living. ECB authorizes one particular person to handle the postal ballot packages.

Namgay Tshering said that the postal charges are paid by commission for the overseas postal ballot.

Authorized postal ballot focal person then collects the postal ballots and post it.

He said that focal person is mainly appointed to cut down the postal charges. It costs around USD 69 for each postal ballot package to post for a one way to country like Australia, the United States and European countries. The focal person collects the postal ballot and posts it in bulk in which will be much cheaper through fastest mode, he added.

However, for a country where there is only few Bhutanese people, a focal person is not appointed and an individual has to post back the postal ballot through his own expenses and sometimes it get delayed.

Namgay Tshering said that an issue with oversea postal ballots  is that some of the postal ballots do not reach on poll day and they are not counted.

Out of the total voters registered for postal ballots, around 25,000 voters did not turn up to vote.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu