With the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) already laying out groundwork for the next parliamentary elections, the authority is hoping for greater voter turnout and limited procedural hiccups this time round.
According to an ECB official, all the 20 Dzongkhags are finalizing a customized strategy for each Dzongkhag focusing on voter turnout, which was the theme of the fifth biennial ECB conference as well as the stakeholder’s discussion forum for “Successful Third Parliamentary Elections 2018” held recently at Paro.
“We are aiming for more voter turnout, making every effort including reaching out to all individuals particularly youth and voters living with disability,” said the official, “ECB also plans to conduct seminars for aspiring National Council candidates to further facilitate smooth elections.”
As comprehensive strategies are being formulated at Dzongkhag-levels to enhance voter turnout within the framework of the laws, the commission is optimistic about mechanisms being put in place.
After successfully conducting the second Local Government (LG) elections 2016, to further enhance and improve the electoral process, ECB conducted “The Learning from Experience Program (LEP)” of LG Elections 2016 with various stakeholders including the media and received their feedback and recommendations based on actual experience.
Accordingly, the officials after the LEP program reviewed and worked on the feedback to assess and evaluate election machinery, process and procedures and develop strategies to further strengthen the electoral management system and ensure better conduct of elections in the future.
“Many suggestions and recommendations from past experiences are being followed up on as well as new measures initiated to ensure smooth conduct of elections 2018,” said the official.
The commission has already issued various public advisories including giving advance notice and reminding all entities and general public to avoid any program and activities involving public gathering during February-May 2018 and August-October 2018, the periods of the National Council and National Assembly elections respectively.
The commission has also advised all those interested to ensure Mitsi registration in constituency of choice. These advisories have been shared through media and made available in the public domain to disseminate information.
Similarly, public advisories including candidates’ requirements to contest in upcoming elections have been issued.
“The legal provisions are clear for the merger of political parties and the commission as the registration authority will ensure due process for all the political parties,” said the ECB official.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu