…Calls for inclusivity are rising as non-civil servants urge a reconsideration of postal ballot eligibility and propose alternatives to ensure equal participation
Growing discontent is evident among private sector employees concerning the current postal ballot system. They are questioning the fairness of a system that appears to favor civil servants, which raises concerns about unequal treatment under the law. Some have proposed practical solutions, like nominal fees or local voting stations, to ease the financial burden and inconvenience faced by non-civil servants. They are urging the government and the Election Commission of Bhutan to reconsider their policies, highlighting the need for a more inclusive approach to ensure equal voting rights for all citizens.
One private employee expressed their dissatisfaction, saying, “I find it disheartening that those employed in the private sector are made to feel less like Bhutanese citizens. The privilege of postal ballots seems limited only to civil servants, leaving those of us in the private sector without a voice. It appears to be a case of ‘one country, two laws,’ which is quite disconcerting.”
Kuenga Wangmo anxiously awaited the arrival of her postal ballot paper, only to discover that it was not extended to private sector employees like herself.
Another private worker questioned, “I can’t help but wonder why non-civil servants are excluded from the option of postal ballots. Could this decision be motivated by cost-cutting measures? If so, perhaps a nominal fee for non-civil servants opting for postal ballots could be considered. The inconvenience of traveling all the way to the village just to cast a vote shouldn’t deter our participation.”
Similarly, another private employee shared, “I would greatly appreciate it if the government and the election commission could reconsider their stance. Allowing non-civil servants, who are not eligible for postal ballots, to vote at their own stations would be a significant relief. Many of us struggle with the expenses associated with traveling to our respective gewogs. If we were given the opportunity to vote at our own stations, the number of participants would likely increase substantially.”
Karma, employed in the private sector, expressed, “I have been working in the private industry for very long, and returning to my village solely for voting would be costly. The income I earn barely covers my essential expenses, leaving no room for additional expenditures like travel back to the village just for voting. We do not have any extra funds for such trips.”
A spokesperson from the Election Commission of Bhutan emphasized, “We are diligently adhering to the Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, which explicitly outlines the eligibility criteria for postal ballots.”
The Section 331 of the Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2008 provides that Civil Servants, Students and Trainees, Members of the Armed Forces, Diplomats and persons working in the Embassies of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Persons residing outside Bhutan for the performance of a special government duty, Spouses or dependents of the aforementioned and any other group of people identified by the Election Commission of Bhutan in consultation with the Government may cast their votes through post.