Sri Lanka Parliamentary Election 2010: Postal Voting, Media Communiqué 2

25th March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV is deeply concerned by reports alleging attempts to disenfranchise postal voters by officials in their capacity as certifying officers in particular.

CMEV deployed 185 Mobile Monitors and 150 Stationary Monitors today (25 March 2010) to monitor the postal voting and intends to have the same deploy tomorrow.

CMEV recorded 25 postal voting related incidents today. As of 24th March CMEV has recorded a cumulative total of 192 incidents including 121 Major Incidents.

The Major Incidents related to the postal voting are highlighted below:

Sabaragamuwa Province

Zonal Education Office, Warakapola

On 24th March CMEV received a complaint from Dedigama UNP party office alleging that 05 non- government employees were included in the list of postal voters. According the list M.P.Jayaweera of 4th Regiment, Palali, has been named as the certifying officer.

On 25th CMEV contacted a voter who was named in the above list.  He stated that he is not a government employee and that he was not aware of how his name came to be included on the postal voting list. He suspects that someone has intentionally done this in order to deny his voting rights, as he is a UNP supporter.

When contacted Mr.Jayaweera informed CMEV that he is a government teacher at Nivatuwa Maha Vidyalaya and that he had also applied for postal voting and marked his postal vote at Zonal Education Office, Warakapola today. He further explained that he came to know about the incident yesterday through the Grama Niladhari of his division and that his forged signature has been used in the application.

CMEV contacted P.A. Senaratne, Assistant Election Commissioner of Kegalle District. He informed CMEV that mistakenly their names were replaced with similar names of government employees. He said that they have been identified and that postal ballots were not sent to them. He further assured CMEV that he has taken measures to make arrangements for them to cast their votes on 08th April.

On 25th March at around 03.10 pm, CMEV contacted the Kegalle District Returning Officer, Mrs.D.M.P.Dissanayake on this account. She informed CMEV that she came to know about the incident yesterday evening and they have started an investigation into the matter. She also said that the perpetrators are yet to be identified.

CMEV will raise the issue with the Election Commissioner and urge him to ensure a detailed investigation into the incident.

Rambukana Pradeshiya Sabah

According to the CMEV Monitor, as of 11.30 am, a double cab(252-6894), a tipper( CP LC 9201) and a van(SB TA 4399) were parked within the premises of Rambukana PS. The vehicles were decorated with the propaganda material of UPFA candidate Kanaka Herath(candidate no 04). Fifty –two (52) postal votes were registered at the centre.

Central Province

Leminiar Tami Vidyalayam,Nuwara-Eliya

On 25th March, CMEV received reports regarding an alleged attempt to deny voters’ rights in Nuwara-Eliya.

According to two teachers of Leminiar Tamil Vidyalaya, namely Saraswathi Pawani and Mrs.Rajakumran, they did not receive their postal ballots though they had applied for postal voting. They alleged that the Principal of the School did not submit their applications as they are supporters of National Union of Workers, an ally of UNP.

A.Nagarajah a UNP Member of the Kotagala Pradeshiya Sabha informed CMEV that the two  teachers were the only postal voters who did not receive postal ballots. He alleges that the principal did this on purpose to deny UNF voters of the franchise.

CMEV contacted the Zonal Education Office, Nuwara-Eliya, B.Dharmasisiri Ranasinghe, an administrative officer of the department. He told CMEV that they were not sent postal ballots because their applications had not been received.

Uva Province

Mahiyangana Zonal Education Office: At around 03.35 pm CMEV Field Monitor reported that 245 applications for postal voting were rejected by the respective Zonal Education Director, Mr.Susil Wijeyatilaka due to late submission.

CMEV contacted Susil Wijetilaka who informed CMEV that he received applications from staff until 26th of February and due to the transportation problems he was unable to submit the applications on the due date. He further stated that he informed the Assistant Election Commissioner’s Office on 26th February that he was unable to handover the applications on the due date and an officer instructed him to send the applications by post. Mr.Susil Wijetialka has sent the applications by post, they were rejected and he has no record of who he spoke to.

CMEV contacted A.T.M.Talangama, Assistant Election Commissioner of the Badulla District. He stated that they acted according the rules and that the deadlines given by the Election Commissioner and the Director of Mahiyangana Zonal Education Office was responsible for his delay.

CMEV has learnt that most of the applicants have applied for election duty and might lose their right to vote.

Western Province

Maharagama Urban Council

At around 01.00 pm, CMEV Field Monitor reported that UPFA candidate Sudharman Radaliyagoda(candidate no 05) and a group of supporters wearing T-Shirts and Caps displaying the candidate’s number were seen within the premises of the Council.

At around 01.20 pm, R.A.Somawathi, Certifying Officer of the centre, informed CMEV that they were present in the morning and that she had instructed them to leave the premises.  She further stated that since she was inside the building, she was not aware of whether they have entered again . She assured CMEV that she would look into the matter.

Forest Department Head Office, Malabe

On 25th March, the CMEV Field Monitor reported that 19 postal vote applications were rejected due to their late submission.

Eastern Province

CMEV Field Monitors reported that they found the tops of ballot paper envelopes stuck in several postal voting centres.  CMEV recorded 02 instances from the Paddiruppu electorate and 01 incident from the Batticaloa electorate.

CMEV contacted the Assistant Election Commissioner of Batticaloa, T. Krishnanandalingam. He informed CMEV that this was a mistake and that they had deployed a mobile team to re-issue valid envelopes to postal voters.

Kinniya Urban Council

At around 11.10 am, CMEV Field Monitor reported that a black Pajero(WP C-655) displaying the beetle symbol and candidate no 07 was parked inside the premises of Kinniya PS. Seventeem (17) postal votes were registered at the centre.

Southern Province

Sooriyawewa Police Station

According to the CMEV Field Monitor all postal voting applications of the Sooriyawewa Police Station have been rejected by the certifying officer B.G.S.Sumanasinghe, OIC of the Sooriyawewa Police Station, on grounds of late submission. An officer attached to the Hambantota Assistant Election Commissioner’s office confirmed the incident.

Bopey-Poddala Pradeshiya Sabah

At around 12.40 pm, CMEV Field Monitor reported that supporters of UPFA candidates namely Rev.Baddegama Samitha(candidate no 09) and Piyasena Gamage(candidate no 03) and UNP candidate Wijyapala Hettiarachchi(candidate no 11) were campaigning for their respective candidates using the public addressing system near the Bopey-Poddala Pradeshiya Sabha. They came in separate vehicle convoys. CMEV Field Monitor has identified two vehicles as follows;

A cab (WPC 100299) belonging to Piyasena Gamage

A three-wheel (SP GE 2660) belonging to Wijayapala Hettiarachchi

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