More than 88,000 register for postal ballot

A total of 88,915 eligible voters have registered for the postal ballot services for the third council elections.

Most eligible postal voters, through their organizations have applied for registration to the election commission. They include civil servants, students, the armed force and Bhutanese officials based in embassies.

The commission, among others, also received applications from the spouses and direct dependents of civil servants and Bhutanese living overseas.

The commission has also extended the service to the corporations, State Owned Enterprises, Civil Society Organizations, media, associations, and some of the private employees. This time the commission has extended postal ballot services to more people than in the past.

Of the total registered postal voters, 1,964 live overseas. The highest postal ballot the commission received was from the US and Australia.

There are also conventional postal voters for remote areas in the country and for those who are on election duty. This service is extended for those civil servants who are in the remotest places like Laya and Lunana, where it is difficult to set up facilitation booth. There are 209 conventional postal voters. Conventional voters are eligible postal voters  whose postal ballots are send as in the past elections.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) will introduce postal ballot polling booth and mobile polling booth to facilitate the postal ballot voters for the third parliamentary elections.

In the entire country, there will be 64 facilitation booths. Thimphu has the highest number of eight facilitation booths.

Of the total postal voters, 59,743 will be casting votes in the polling booths across the country.

For the mobile polling booth, the commission has received 843 eligible postal voters from prisoners and the differently-abled.

Trashigang has the highest number of eligible postal ballot voters with 12,109 followed by Mongar with 8,500. Gasa has the lowest number of eligible postal ballot voters with 207 followed by Haa with 1,485.

For the first council elections, while the commission received 20,992 applications, only about 23% of the votes were counted. In the second council elections 40,701 applications were received of which only 23,967 were valid postal ballots.

Mistakes in identity card numbers and mailing addresses and skipping details of competent witness were some of the reasons for postal votes getting rejected.

The election commission has settled for Nu 90 for every transaction of a postal ballot, which returning officers need to send back to the voters. For every postal voter, Nu 180 is being invested. That way, the cost would run into millions.

For the first council elections, the cost for each ballot transaction was negotiated at Nu 70 and for the second council elections, the cost for each ballot transaction was negotiated at Nu 80.

The commission has already starting dispatching the postal ballots to respective returning officers across the country.

Also, returning officers have initiated sending postal ballots to the registered postal voters from March 22.

The facilitation and mobile booths will be set up on April 12,13 and 14 for three days.

The last date for receiving postal ballots for the returning officers will be till 5pm on April 19. The postal ballots received after 5pm on April 19 will be not be counted.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu