Special Release on voter concerns: Parliamentary Election 2010

6th April 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV has received reports from the Puttalam and Batticaloa Districts alleging preparations for voter impersonation in the polls on the 08th. CMEV urges the Commissioner to investigate these allegations and ensure that all action is taken to prevent voter impersonation.

Illegal applications under displaced category in Puttalam District

On 30th March, CMEV received a copy of the letter, addressed to the Election Commissioner, from UNP candidate for Vanni District Noordeen Mashoor regarding illegal voter applications under the displaced category in the Puttalm District.

In the letter, he alleged that this was done on the instigation of the incumbent Minister and UPFA candidate Rishard Badiudeen. The letter mentions that most of such voters currently reside in Colombo and Panadura. The rest are either living abroad or have died.

On contacting Noordeen Mashoor’s Office, CMEV was informed that in centres highlighted in the letter, there was a remarkable increase in the number of voters compared to the last presidential election. Manalkunru(PD No.29D), Cassim city(PD No.42D/3), Veppamadu(PD No.23 D/1), Alankuda(PD No.54/D1 & 54D/2), Ulukkappallam(PD No.77D/1& 77/2), Hidayath Nagar(PD No.86D) and Thillayady(PD No.40D) in the Puttalam District and Salampapuram (PD No.43D) in the Anurdhapura District were highlighted in the letter.

An officer attached to Mashoor’s office told CMEV that a list highlighting every individual’s current status has been prepared in order to identify the illegal applications. According to him, there are around 6,000 such voters. He also informed CMEV that the copies have been given to the Election Commissioner and respective Returning Officer and Assistant Election Commissioner. He said that they were awaiting action in this regard.

On contacting the Assistant Election Commissioner and the Returning Officer of Puttalam, CMEV learnt that they have started investigations into the matter. On 02nd April CMEV was told by the Assistant Election Commissioner-Puttalam Mr.A.O.M.Nafeel that in a random check they did based on the list they received from the complainant, they identified around 27 applications with forged signatures of Grama Niladharis. He further explained that since they do not have an updated list of people residing in the camps, it is difficult to compare the lists. He also said that they did not have enough time and resources to conduct a check on an individual basis. He stated that after the consultation with the Commissioner, they would take a decision regarding the mater.

On 03rd April CMEV learnt that the Commissioner issued a notice on the issue on 02nd April. CMEV got a copy of the notice on 04th April.

It is mentioned in the notice that 25,582 displaced voters (21,035 for Vanni and 4,547 for Jaffna) have applied under the displaced category and they will be allowed to cast their votes in centres to be set up in the Puttalam District.

It is further noted in the notice that the lists of displaced voters under this category were displayed in the Puttalam and Mannar Election Offices and in the respective Divisional Secretariats a week ago. They subsequently received complaints from some voters in Mannar that they did not apply under this category. Accordingly, they will be allowed to vote in their regular polling centres in Mannar, the notice states.

It is also stated in the notice that they have identified some applications with forged details and signatures and that in many cases Grama Niladaris had not attested the applications.

CMEV has learnt that applications of those living abroad and deceased were submitted with forged signatures.  This is also mentioned in the notice.

It is explained in the notice that the Puttalam Assistant Election Commissioner’s Department attempted to get a list of people over 18 yrs through the respective Returning Officer. However, the lists have yet to be submitted by the respective camp officers. Therefore, it is difficult to conduct a fair poll in 37 centres set up in the Puttalam District.

The notice instructs displaced voters to get their respective camp officer and Grama Niladari to attest the form issued by the Department of Election. However there are concerns in respect of the former since camp officers are appointed by Rishard Badiudeen’s ministry and with the time period available for this.

On 05th April CMEV contacted the respective Returning Officer in this regard, he informed CMEV that the Commissioner has issued another notice today considering all the issues. According to him a declaration will be obtained from voters at the discretion of the SPOs or if a polling agent objects, according to the section 43 of the Parliamentary Elections Act. Measures will be taken to inform the people through Grama Niladharis.

CMEV notes that this is not the first time illegal applications have been submitted from the Puttalam District. During the Jaffna MC and Vavuniya UC Elections, 488 such applications were found and removed by the Election Commissioner. Moreover, the annulment of results in a polling centre due to malpractices has also happened in the Puttalm District in the recent past.

CMEV notes with concern the lack of preparedness for the conduct of the polls and underscores the lack of an updated list of people residing in the camps, though displacement occurred 20 years ago. .

CMEV calls upon the respective Returning Officer and Assistant Election Commissioner to act fast to effectively communicate the message to the concerned people and to remove the confusion arising from constant changes of the procedures within a very short period.

Allegations of preparation for systematic voter impersonation

On 04th April CMEV received a copy of a letter, addressed to the Election Commissioner on 30th March 2010, from UNP candidate for the Batticaloa District U.L.M.N.Mubeen

He alleged, in the letter, that a UPFA candidate plans large- scale voter impersonation using forged NICs.

The letter states that the candidate in question has visited the town to collect the details of traders who are voters in the Batticaloa Distric but currently residing outside the Distrixt for business purposes. It is also alleged that the candidate has collected a copies of the latter’s NICs for purposes of impersonation.

The letter alleges that Mr.Abdul Raheem known as Rupavahini Raheem has been assigned the task of forging NICs and that the candidate has engaged in impersonation in previous elections, including the last Eastern Provincial Council Election.

The letter requests the Commissioner to inform the Police of this and recommends that election officials from Kattankudy not be appointed to this area.  Likewise election monitors.

CMEV reiterates its call to the Commissioner to act to ensure that voter impersonation as alleged does not take place.