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Following a Royal Edict to adopt universal suffrage in election for local government institutions, maiden elections were held in 199 gewogs (counties) in Bhutan in 2002 to elect their chief executives. This paper gives an account of this first time event in a country where most villagers had never seen secret ballots and poll booths. It synthesizes detailed data, mostly qualitative, collected soon after the election was over, and assesses aspects of electoral participation that His Majesty thedoi:10.20561/00038156 fatcat:wra3rii2mfglvdwq7t27dlaxbu