Though there are no recorded statistics revealing how many Bhutanese are living and studying abroad currently, more than 3,500 of them including 1,879 male and 1,689 female have registered with the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) for postal ballot.
The postal ballots from the election commission were sent on August 24.
Even the commission does not have records of Bhutanese living abroad.
On September 14, the postal ballots have to reach to the concerned Returning Officer of the particular Dzongkhag before 5pm.
The postal ballots have been posted via Bhutan Post and dispatched accordingly to the addresses of the individuals.
Talking to Business Bhutan, Kuenga Tashi, a former employee of BBS currently in Australia said he sent his postal ballot already. “Voting is the most sacred duty in a democracy and I voted for the party that may best serve the king, country and the people,” he said.
He lives in Perth with his wife and son.
Samten Yeshi who is studying cultural heritage policy, planning and management in Central European University, Budapest, Hungary said that he also send his vote but it was not easy to find a witness.
“Especially where I live, there are not many Bhutanese; only three and they are not near to each other. When you sent a postal ballot, you have a form where you fill your personal details and another Bhutanese has to sign it saying it is true.”
He also mentioned that it is every citizen’s responsibility to partake in choosing the right government and their representatives when given the opportunity in a free and fair election.
Phub Dorji working in the USA said: Even if my vote does not matter, I feel it’s my share and responsibility. Regarding voting, despite living away from home, it’s every citizen’s responsibility to take part in every election.”
Sangay Wangmo who lives in Perth with her husband said she and her husband already sent their postal ballots to the concerned Returning Officer. “No matter where I stay, I will exercise my right.”
“I have already sent my ballot along with my wife,” said Sonam Tobgay living in Perth with his wife and daughter.
According to him the number of Bhutanese people living in the USA is about 2,500 though there is no exact record.
Section 331 of the Election Act specifies that those eligible for postal ballots are civil servants, armed forces, people on special government duty, diplomats and their dependents, students and trainees and any other group specified by the ECB. The Commission has allowed overseas Bhutanese, the Hotel Association and Tour Operators association’s members postal ballots due to their nature of work.
Despite notifications from ECB to register for the postal ballots, some of the people living abroad have failed to register due to various reasons.
One among them is Yeshi Choden based in Dubai who could not register due to her busy schedule. Similar was the case with Karna Galey currently based in Australia.
Phuspa Nirola working in Qatar did not register for the postal ballot saying that she was not aware about the procedure but she does not regret it as she is not aware about the political parties.
Dorji Dukpa based in New York said he did not register as he did not get time to register and moreover he said he is not interested in politics or voting. “There is no benefit for us especially people living abroad and politicians seems least interested in us too,” he said.
Kinley Namgay studying in Brisbane, Australia said he was too immersed in his studies and work to register for postal ballot.
Chencho Dema from Thimphu