By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 3 January 2021
Tibetans around the world cast their votes to elect a new Sikyong (political leader) and members of their 17th Parliament.
Voters lined up in droves at polling stations in the exile capital McLeod Ganj to cast their ballots. Some were seen offering prayers as they vote.
An estimated 7,000 people have registered under the Tibetan Settlement Office of Dharamshala, that includes McLeod Ganj, making it the largest electorate in the exile Diaspora.
Barring some minor problems the voting has been smooth in the entire Dharamshala area. Some people have heard of instructions that no mobile phones would be allowed to copy the details of people they are voting for. This has caused some difficulties.
A few people had been told to go to different polling stations, due to their address, causing them to miss their voting rights.
“The voting has been conducted smoothly and fairly in Dharamshala. We do not have any figures to give now without the consent of the Election Commission,” said Kunga Tsering, the Tibetan Settlement Officer of Dharamshala.
The counting will begin from the 5th morning and the results will be announced at the respective localities by the Regional Election Commissions.
Australia and New Zealand results will be known first as they are ahead in time. The overall results will be published on Tibet Sun after they are announced at the respective places.
Tibetans from around the world have shared photos and their voting experiences on social media. A voter from Belgium has this entry on his Facebook: “I VOTED. Feeling thankful to His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama for gifting us this beautiful democratic system.”
Speaking to Tibet Sun, a voter from Bylakuppe, which also has a large electorate, said that the voting has been conducted successfully, with a large number of people taking part in the elections.
Voting has been similarly conducted peacefully in Dekiling, Dehra Dun. “People were happy and came enthusiastically to cast their votes. They may have different choices for Sikyong, but there’s a friendly atmosphere,” he said.
Some places have voted in advance of the 3 January Election Day. Election rules allow voting in advance, but cannot postpone voting. A few thousand people in Nepal cast their votes secretly to avoid Nepalese official attention and repercussions due to Chinese pressure.
Tibet Sun has reliably learned that Tibetans in South Korea were not able to vote as there were no voting arrangements made, although there are about 50 Tibetans living there, mostly in Seoul.
About 80,000 Tibetans around the world registered to exercise their franchise. Of these more than 55,000 are in India.