Gen­eral rounds show higher voter turnout in the elec­tions

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Chen­cho Dema From Thim­phu

Bhutan’s three par­lia­men­tary elec­tions from 2008 till 2018 show that the peo­ple of Bhutan have been vot­ing re­spon­si­bly and the voter turnout in all the gen­eral rounds is higher than dur­ing the pri­mary rounds. This is ev­i­dent from the records of the past three elec­tions.

The first demo­cratic elec­tion in 2008 had no pri­mary round but the gen­eral round saw a voter turnout of 79.4%.

The 2013 and 2018 gen­eral rounds saw more num­ber of vot­ers as com­pared to the pri­mary rounds.

In 2013 pri­mary elec­tion, the voter turnout was 55.27% while in the gen­eral round it rose to 66.13%. This was an in­crease of al­most 11%.

A to­tal of 381,790 reg­is­tered vot­ers com­pris­ing of 187,195 (49.22%) male and 193,875 (50.78%) fe­male was the fi­nal elec­toral roll from the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan (ECB). Of the 211,018 to­tal voter turnout in the pri­mary round, 173,075 votes were cast through EVM across 850 polling sta­tions and the re­main­ing 37,943 by means of postal bal­lot.

In the gen­eral round, there were a to­tal of 381,790 reg­is­tered vot­ers from which, 252,485 vot­ers came out to cast their votes: 208,226 voted via EVM while 44,259 voted through postal bal­lots.

For the 2018 pri­mary elec­tion, the voter turnout was 66.36% and the gen­eral round saw 71.46% voter turnout, an in­crease of 5.1%.

The third par­lia­men­tary elec­tion saw 438,663 to­tal reg­is­tered vot­ers with 214,113 male and 224,550 fe­male. In last five years, a to­tal of 56,873 new vot­ers were added hav­ing at­tained the age of ex­er­cis­ing their adult fran­chise.

The 2018 pri­mary round saw a to­tal of 291,098 vot­ers cast their vote out of the to­tal of 438,663 reg­is­tered vot­ers. Of the to­tal votes cast, 182,518 votes were cast in per­son through EVM in the 865 polling sta­tions and while the re­main­ing 108,580 voted through postal bal­lot.

In the gen­eral round, a to­tal of 313,473 vot­ers cast their vote out of the to­tal of 438,663 reg­is­tered vot­ers. Of the to­tal votes cast, 199,553 votes were cast in per­son on through EVM and 113,920 voted through postal bal­lot.

Busi­ness Bhutan in­ter­viewed some of the vot­ers on why they felt there was dif­fer­ence in the vot­ing pat­terns dur­ing the pri­mary and gen­eral round elec­tions. Most of them said they tend to at­tach more im­por­tance to the gen­eral elec­tion than the pri­mary.

A voter from the East said the pri­mary elec­tion was about the par­ties while gen­eral round was about the can­di­dates. “Vot­ers show less in­ter­est dur­ing the pri­mary elec­tion be­cause in the pri­mary round, vot­ing is done for the party, while for the gen­eral round, the vot­ing is done based on can­di­date ca­pa­bil­i­ties and com­pe­tency,” he said.

An­other voter, a civil ser­vant, 39, said that the in­creas­ing trend of voter turnout sig­ni­fies the Bhutanese peo­ple’s ma­tu­rity in pol­i­tics. He said that this is the third par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, in ad­di­tion to nu­mer­ous Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment elec­tions. All this has helped the Bhutanese gain bet­ter knowl­edge of the elec­tions. In 2008, the gen­eral pub­lic in­clud­ing the lit­er­ate lot had hardly any knowl­edge on the elec­tion process,” he said adding that now al­most all peo­ple, in­clud­ing the ru­ral peo­ple are well versed about elec­tions.

A pri­vate em­ployee said that peo­ple have re­ally un­der­stood the im­por­tance of their vote. “The vot­ing hap­pens only once in five years and your one vote is im­por­tant to make your voice heard,” he said. He added that an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple are com­ing for­ward to vote be­cause they re­al­ize that their vote have an im­pact on peo­ple’s lives and the so­ci­ety. More peo­ple hav­ing bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the elec­tions can also be at­trib­uted to the elec­tion ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign and ad­vo­cacy ECB has been con­duct­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to some vot­ers, few peo­ple are ap­a­thetic about the elec­tions be­cause they have the no­tion that which­ever party comes to power will have no im­pact on in­di­vid­u­als.

A voter from Pema­gat­shel said that the rea­son for peo­ple re­strain­ing or re­frain­ing from vot­ing is be­cause of the per­for­mance of the MPs. She said, “All de­ci­sions are made in par­lia­ment which does not have di­rect ben­e­fit to the lo­cal peo­ple,”

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