Postal ballots may prove decisive in Bhutan polls

Postal ballots may play a key role in deciding the fate of many candidates in Bhutan`s second national elections on Saturday as victory margins in many constituencies are expected to be very narrow.

Last Updated: Jul 12, 2013, 15:25 PM IST

Thimphu: Postal ballots may play a key role in deciding the fate of many candidates in Bhutan`s second national elections on Saturday as victory margins in many constituencies are expected to be very narrow.

A total of 47,964 postal ballots were issued in 47 constituencies and going by the past election in Bhutan, where postal ballots had played a role in deciding the winners, in this election too, votes coming in mails may play a pivotal role in constituencies.

The polls will be contested by Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), which is the ruling party in Bhutan and the People`s Democratic Party (PDP), the major opposition.

"Every vote counts. Every vote is valuable. So, naturally the postal ballots may play a role in the results of a few constituencies," Bhutan Election Commissioner Deki Pema told a news agency.

During the first national elections in Bhutan in 2008, in two constituencies, Trashigang and Zhemgang, the results were altered after counting of postal ballots.

In a small country like Bhutan where a vote difference is as low as two or six, postal ballots may come in handy for the losing candidates.

The highest number of voters is in Samtse (41,769) while the lowest number of voters is in Gasa (1,842).

"This time the contest is very competitive. I would be not surprised if outcomes of a few seats are decided by postal ballots," opposition People`s Democratic Party general secretary Sonam Jatsho told a news agency.

While postal ballot was initially introduced to civil servants, students and armed forces personnel with an aim to facilitate voting to those who would be engaged on election duty, it was later extended to families and dependents.

Hoteliers, tour operators and corporate offices, whose services are required during the polls, were also given the facility.

"The postal ballot facility is given to those who are involved in the election process and those who are out in the field for the various task. We are ensuring that all postal ballots reach the counting centres on time," Pema said.

There are 3,81,790 registered voters in Bhutan who will decide the fate of 94 candidates in 47 constituencies across the Himalayan nation.

PTI