Apropos the article “Did ECB breach Election Act?” in the Kuensel issue of 2nd January 2016, the ECB would like to reassure the general public that there has been neither a violation of the Electoral Laws nor any inconsistency.
While such a conclusion is implied based on an incomplete reading of the provisions, it is indeed a good opportunity to inform the general public that there are several provisions which have to be read together to ensure that the Election Schedule is drawn up and issued in a timely manner: not too early, not too late.
The key guiding factors in finalizing the Election Schedule are the Final Delimitation Orders, tenure of the LGs and the mandatory timeframe including the Poll Day required to be within 30 days of the last day of withdrawal of candidature, and the last day of nomination to be within 30 days after issuance of the notification.
With regard to the “lack of time” mentioned in the story, it is again reminded that the general public were advised about the up-coming Local Government Elections in mid-2014 itself. One may even recall the case of the erstwhile Dramedtse Gup transferring his mitsi and subsequently having to vacate office a year later. Besides this early advisory, a public announcement was also made and awareness and voter education sessions conducted by separate teams in all the three Thromdes before the actual issuance of the Notification calling the elections.
The reporter quoted on Sangay Tamang as “he” complaining about the lack of time whereas the nominee in question is actually a woman. Further, as per the birth date on the Citizenship Identity Card, she does not meet the minimum age requirement of 25 years.
Similarly, on the so-called “inconsistencies”, it has to be pointed out that while it is correct that elections have to be conducted within 90 days after the dissolution it should be noted, as clearly indicated in the Notification, that the Thromde elections underway are neither as a result of a “dissolution” nor does the calling of the elections require the dissolution of the Local Governments.
We are encouraged by the opinion being expressed about the low voter turn-out as it is indeed a vital aspect of elections. We urge each and every voter to translate this genuine concern into concrete action which includes shouldering the individual responsibility to be registered in the constituency of choice, accessing the public information being provided through every media forms as well as participating in the face-to-face education and awareness sessions in the respective localities, and turning up to vote on Poll Day.
The Election Commission is hopeful of the meaningful participation of the voters of Bhutan to ensure successful and fair elections of the historic Second LG elections, which begins with the three Thromde Elections in the special year 2016 when the Nation will be marking other historic events.