Voters urged to mark 2nd & 3rd preferences

2019-08-13 at 13:00

Election Monitoring bodies have drawn attention to initiating a series of programs to encourage voters to mark their second and third preferential vote at the next Presidential Election.

Executive Director of the Peoples Action for Free and Fair Election Rohana Hettiarachchi said the Elections Commission had also been informed of the matter.

The second preferential vote will be taken into account if a candidate is unable to gain over 50% of votes at a Presidential Election.

However, the consideration of a second preference has not been required at any Presidential election thus far.

Hettiarachchi nevertheless said it was important to educate voters to mark their 2nd and 3rd preferences due to the present political climate in the country.

Hettiarachchi noted a discussion had already been held with the Elections Commission adding there was a possibility that no candidate will receive  51% of votes.

He also noted since 1982, the winning candidate had received over 50% of the votes with a significant difference only at the 1994 and 2010 elections.

Hettiarachchi added at all other elections the winning candidate had only received between 51 – 52% votes, stating however, at all previous elections, other than the two main candidates all other candidates had only received a very small number of votes  between 100,000 – 200,000.

He claimed although 19 candidates had contested the previous Presidential Election, other than the two main candidates, the other 17 had only received 134,000 votes in total.

Rohana Hettiarachchi further noted that if other candidates apart from the primary candidates obtain more than 500,000 votes at the Presidential Election, a count of the second preference votes must then be taken.

He stated that several candidates apart from the main Presidential candidates were preparing to contest elections this year and there was public interest, adding therefore there may be a possibility that candidates apart from the frontrunners will secure more than 500,000 votes, though the winning candidate may also obtain 50% of votes.

He urged all relevant factions including the Elections Commission, election monitoring bodies and media organizations to draw the attention of voters to mark their second and third preferences accordingly.