… 𝑬𝑪𝑩’𝒔 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒅𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒎𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒂 𝒇𝒂𝒊𝒓 𝒅𝒆𝒎𝒐𝒄𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒄𝒆𝒔𝒔
By Sonam Deki
As the custodian of the electoral process, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is ensuring that the National Assembly (NA) Elections, 2023-2024, will be conducted with utmost integrity, transparency, and fairness. The ECB has demonstrated its full preparedness through extensive awareness programs and training initiatives. “The ECB is fully prepared to hold the National Assembly Elections, 2023-2024”, said ECB.
The ECB added, “Common challenges in electoral processes, such as voter accessibility, prevention of electoral fraud, and maintaining the overall integrity of the elections, are being addressed proactively by the election commission. Robust voter education, stringent monitoring, and enforcement of election laws are among the measures taken to uphold the sanctity of the democratic process.”
Anticipating a substantial voter turnout, the upcoming election is strategically planned with comprehensive voter education initiatives and the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SoP).
Aiming to foster a conducive environment for high voter engagement, citizens are being informed about the electoral process, political parties, candidates, and the significance of their participation.
“In a bid to ensure an inclusive and smooth voting experience, officials at the Polling Stations are committed to facilitating voters with disabilities. Special provisions include amenities like chairs for resting, assistance towards the booth, and a queue-free experience. For persons with disabilities unable to travel to the polling station, the ECB has arranged early voting options from November 23 to 25, 2023. Dzongkhags have completed enumerating the list of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) unable to walk to polling stations, and a dedicated team will visit their doorsteps to facilitate voting on the specified dates”, the ECB further added.
The estimated budget for the National Assembly Elections, 2023-24, stands at Nu. 444.321 million. A comprehensive team comprising 47 Returning Officers, 47 National Observers, 1 Micro-Observer, and 3236 polling officials will be deployed for the elections. These figures exclude the number of security personnel who will also play a vital role in ensuring the security and smooth conduct of the NA elections, 2023-24.
The initial phase of the election is scheduled for November 30, 2023, while the subsequent general round will take place on January 9, 2024. As outlined in Section 189 of the Election Act, the National Assembly elections unfold in two distinct stages: the primary and the general. In the primary round, registered political parties, whose Letter of Intent (LoI) aligns with all requisite criteria and gains approval from the ECB, will engage in competition across all 20 dzongkhags.
The two parties that secure the highest and second-highest number of votes throughout the 20 dzongkhags will be extended invitations by the ECB to nominate one candidate each, paving the way for their participation in the general elections across each of the 47 constituency (demkhong).