News

Overall conducting of polls: Monitoring bodies satisfied

  • 5% rejected votes should be checked: PAFFREL
  • SL a model to the region: ANFREL
  • Don’t give second chance on National List: CaFFE
By Sarah Hannan

The 2020 general election concluded successfully with a relatively peaceful 48 hours being observed post election as the ballots were counted and the results were published.

This was the first election in the South Asian region that was held amidst the pandemic, while adhering to health guidelines set out by the Election Commission (EC) and the Ministry of Health.

Given the precautions that were to be observed, no foreign election monitors were present in the country. However, the local election monitoring bodies rallied all their officials to conduct ground monitoring activities as well as online monitoring activities.

People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi, speaking to The Sunday Morning, noted that during the post-election period, their monitors had reported 15 incidents of assault in the areas of Rakwana, Muttur, Kalmunai, and Katugampola.

He also pointed out that the percentage of the rejected votes (5%) needed to be analysed to determine if it was an issue with the way the ballot paper was designed or whether it was a complex one that confused the voter when marking the paper.

Furthermore, Hettiarachchi said that although the voter turnout was estimated to be 75% from the total voter base, considering that migrant workers, Sri Lankans living abroad, people at the quarantine centres, and other professionals were unable to vote this time, the turnout for voters can be considered to be 90%.

Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) National Co-ordinator Manjula Gajanayake also raised concerns about the number of postal votes that had been rejected.

“The Election Commission spends an extra amount on facilitating postal voting, and it is in fact double the amount that needs to be allocated compared to a regular voter. An analysis over the spoiled postal ballot applications needs to be carried out,” Gajanayake told The Sunday Morning.

Meanwhile, Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) Executive Director Chandanie Watawala, addressing the media, noted that Sri Lanka successfully conducted the parliamentary election amid the Covid-19 pandemic, calling this election a “success story”.

“This was one of the most successful elections held in the South Asian region, with a high voter turnout despite the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, and can be emulated as a model election in other countries that are to hold elections in the coming months.”

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) requested political party leaders not to send electoral losers to Parliament on the National List.

CaFFE Executive Director Manas Makeen said that sending such people into Parliament through the National List is akin to turning a blind eye to people’s wishes.

Makeen added that a number of political stalwarts had been defeated and this is an indication that they have been rejected by the people.