News

2020 general election: Covid-19 fails to keep voters away

  • Countrywide voter turnout of 70%
  • Peaceful polling with minimum incidents

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Fear of the coronavirus pandemic did not keep large numbers of Sri Lankans from heading to the polls to vote in the freshly concluded parliamentary election yesterday (5) with a recorded countrywide voter turnout of 70%, according to the Election Commission (EC).

Addressing the post-election press conference held at the elections headquarters, EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said the country saw a commendable voter turnout at yesterday’s elections, despite the doubts raised by various parties that the country would see a low voter turnout due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He stressed that the 70% turnout can even be viewed as 100% as the election was held in a very uncertain situation while the whole world was facing a pandemic.

Furthermore, the Elections Chief noted that the election was peacefully concluded with a minimum number of incidents relating to election violence recorded yesterday.

“The incidents recorded cannot actually be identified as violent incidents as there was no such major incident recorded with the Commission or the Police,” Deshpariya said.

Few incidents have been recorded from Kelaniya and Kilinochchi and the Police are further investigating those incidents, he added.

In addition, the EC ruled out any relation between the election and the murder of notorious criminal gang member Eron Ranasinghe alias “SF Lokka”, claiming that it was not election violence.

However, the EC Chief further commended the support given by the health authorities and assured that all polling stations around the country had followed all guidelines given by the authorities at yesterday’s election.

Responding to a query, Deshapriya noted that permission was not given for those who were under quarantine to cast their vote as there were no legal provisions.

“We couldn’t go for an advanced voting system for those who were at quarantine centres, as only those who requested a special polling station to cast their vote were to do it within 10 days after the nominations were handed over, and such persons had to prove that they had a fear of going to the required polling station,” Deshapriya added.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Morning, Centre for Monitoring Elections Violence (CMEV) National Co-ordinator Manjula Gajanayake said the entire election process was peaceful and there were no major incidents reported during the period of voting.

“Only around 161 minor complaints have been recorded with the CMEV during the voting period,” he added.

Comparing the previous elections, Gajanayake noted that yesterday’s election was the most peaceful out of all the years.