All set for the 2019 Presidential Election

2019-11-15 at 18:39

Voting to elect the seventh Executive President of Sri Lanka will be worked-off in 22 administrative districts, tomorrow. A total of 35 candidates are in the running to replace Maithripala Sirisena as the Head of State.

Casting of ballots for the 2019 Presidential Election will take place between 0700am and 0500pm tomorrow at 12,845 polling centres, amidst heightened security. A total of 15,996,092 persons are eligible to cast their vote.

The eighth Presidential Election is being worked-off under the 2018 Electoral Register. Marking of postal ballots by state officials, Policemen and other persons on election duty took place on the 31st of October, 3rd, 4th and the 7th of November.

The Gampaha District has the highest number of registered voters in the country with 1,751,892 electors, while the lowest number of registered voters is from the Trincomalee District with 281,114.

Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said a valid form of identity is mandatory to cast ballot at the election, even if a registered voter is in possession of an official polling card. Seven forms of valid IDs have been cited by the Elections Commission.

Accordingly, the National Identity Card, valid Passport, valid Driver’s License, Pensioners’ ID, the Elders’ ID, and the ID issued for the Clergy and the temporary ID card by the Department of Registrations of Persons, are considered valid forms of identity. The Commission also indicated that those who arrived in the island from overseas in the past few days, should carry their passports to the polling centres.

Member of the Election Commission Nalin Abeysekera said registered voters can exercise their franchise by either marking a X on the ballot paper or by marking 1, 2 and 3 opposite Presidential candidates. Nalin Abeysekera noted that marking of preferences is not mandatory and therefore the public can cast their ballot by using only an X in ballot boxes.

Member of the Election Commission Nalin Abeysekera added that voters should follow instructions issued by the Commission in order to avoid their ballot being rejected.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya explained details of those allowed inside polling centres. Deshapriya added photographs of individual’s casting vote except for candidates cannot be photographed.

The Police say individuals who use mobile phones inside polling centres during voting for tomorrow’s Presidential Election will be arrested. Speaking at a media briefing Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police Ruwan Gunesekera said such persons can be arrested on charges of disrupting officials from carrying out their duties.

SSP Gunesekera said voters should only have in their possession respective polling cards and a valid form of identification when casting ballot tomorrow. The Police Media Spokesman said taking photographs of casting one’s ballot or the ballot paper itself will be considered an offence.

He noted that a mobile phone ringing while at the polling centre could also be considered an election violation as it disrupts the duties of polling centre officers.

The transportation of ballot boxes and the deployment of officers for election duty has been completed as of this evening. Secretary of the Election Commission HMT Herath when contacted by NewsRadio said the distribution of official ballot boxes to the Nuwara-Eliya District has been delayed owing to adverse weather experienced in the area.

He added that ballot boxes to Nuwara-Eliya will be distributed in time for the election tomorrow morning. Herath noted that the distribution of ballot boxes to all other districts has been completed. The Police Special Task Force as well as special Police presence was deployed to ensure the safe transportation of ballot boxes.

The Election Commission said all election officers have been deployed for Presidential Election duties to respective polling centres.

The Sri Lanka Police has commenced all duties related to the Presidential Election. The Police Headquarters said it will deploy a total of 60,175 Policemen and 8,080 Civil Defence Force personnel to ensure security for Saturday’s Presidential Election.

A total of 25,712 Police officers have been deployed to polling centres, with two officers deployed for each polling centre. The Police Headquarters said each polling booth will have either two male officers or one female and male officer on duty.

Speaking to NewsRadio, SLTB Deputy General Manager of Operations PHRT Chandrasiri said the relevant buses will be used for the transportation of ballot boxes and for state sector employees and police officers deployed on election duty.

NewsRadio contacted several District Divisional Secretaries over the preparation in respective regions ahead of tomorrows’ Presidential Election. Speaking to NewsRadio, Colombo District Secretary Sunil Kannangara said all preparations are in place for voters to exercise their franchise tomorrow.

He said 1,175 polling centres have been set up in the Colombo District to facilitate 1,670,403 voters. The operations unit for Colombo will be established at Royal College Colombo.

The Kalutara District Secretary UDC Jayalal speaking to NewsRadio said 644 polling centres have been established to facilitate 955,079 voters. Speaking to NewsRadio the Kurunegala District Secretary G Illangaratne said 1,331,705 voters will exercise their franchise at 955 polling centres.

The Galle District Secretary Somarathna Vidanapathirana said 712 polling centres have been set up to facilitate 858,749 voters in the district. The Ampara District Secretary stated that 530,790 voters will cast their ballot at 523 centres.

Commenting on the counting process of the ballot papers after the completion of voting the Election Commission said the counting of postal votes will commence at around 5.30 tomorrow evening. A total of 1,550 centres have been set up across the country for the counting of ballots at the 2019 Presidential Election.

The Election Commission said 371 centres will be used for counting of postal votes while officers will be deployed at 1,179 centres to count ballots, after the casting of votes tomorrow. The Commission said the counting of ballot papers will begin at 8.00pm. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said the first postal vote will be released before midnight on Election Day.

The Election Commission said around 400,000 state employees have been assigned on election duty for the 2019 Presidential Election. The Election Commission has urged all state employees engaged in election duties to act in an unbiased manner. Issuing a statement Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said the Election Commission has assigned an honourable history of conducting an impartial election to public servants.

The Commission informed all state employees, from basic assistants to returning officers who receive their daily wages from the government, to conduct their duties to treat all persons alike and maintain extreme vigilance when carrying out their assigned tasks. Mahinda Deshapriya reassured all personnel that they have no need to fear anyone, and only remain directly answerable to the Election Commission and the Judiciary.

The statement therefore called for all personnel assigned to election duties to carry out their responsibilities to the best of their abilities in order to ensure the conduct of a free and fair election.

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