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Inclusion of the Young and Future Voters in Bhutan”

NewsLetter Almost half the Bhutan population is under the age of 25 years, with this segment increasing every year. An observation into voters and voting patterns has revealed that less than 30% of total voting populations are young voters and in every election, their participation is found to be decreasing. It has been found that the youth are apathetic to political processes and to engage them at the front of decision making, it is important to create favorable conditions through establishments of platforms from all stakeholders responsible for strengthening democracy.

In 2008, Bhutan became a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy with the conduct of the first ever parliamentary elections. While the responsibility of inculcating civic learning and undertaking civic engagement may be the responsibility of citizens in general, the Election Commission of Bhutan, as an institution remains responsible for the conduct of free and fair elections and referendums. It is the Commission that must also take the duty of preparing future electorates through proper and relevant civic and electoral education.

Thus, the Election Commission of Bhutan has come up with various activities to disseminate information on elections and democracy, organize programmes to create voter awareness, especially among young voters. Some such initiatives are:
• Introduction of Democracy Clubs in Schools and Educational Institutions in Bhutan in 2012.
• The Volunteer for Voter Information, Communication and Education adopted on August 13, 2013
• The adoption of the Bhutan Children’s Parliament on June 2, 2015.

Since 2013, the Election Commission of Bhutan has designated September 15 th to be the ‘National Voter Day’. The theme for the very first NVD was ‘Youth in Democracy’ which focused on the young people who form the foundation of the Bhutanese Democracy. On this day, youth members are encouraged to take the NVD pledge to exercise their precious franchise in every election conducted to elect the most capable representative to serve the nation.

Dawa Tenzin ,
Secretary, Election Commission of Bhutan