Sri Lanka has a distinguished history of election management. The number of national and local level elections held so far since the country gained universal suffrage is about 74. Until 2015, the Department of Elections was the authority to hold elections in this country. The Election Commission was then established. The said Election Commission is due to end its term on November 13, 2020. Therefore, here is an Infographic compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) showing the tenure of the officials responsible for the conduct of the elections from the time of the commencement of the formal elections in the country to the present day.
The media is a stakeholder that can never be excluded in any country in which democratic elections are conducted. Regardless of whether the media entity is conventional and mainstream or alternative and new, media behavior indisputably affects the integrity of any election. Continued election observation undertaken by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) over several decades in Sri Lanka has strongly proven that the role of the media in the electoral process in the country is decisive.
While there is an ongoing discussion concerning the role of the media in this country, what is of utmost significance is establishing practices where the strong connectivity between the media and elections can be considered together, rather than allowing the media to be considered as a factor detached from the electoral process.
Accordingly, the objective of this small booklet designed and published by CMEV is to provide a glimpse of the nature of reporting carried out by mainstream newspapers during the election period. This reporting carried news and perspectives on the election to voters as the campaign unfolded. Sri Lankan newspapers have wide and increasing circulation across the country and thus have the power of informing and shaping the views of society, across any issue connected to elections. What is collated in this publication is the perspectives of a diverse range of newspapers having such circulation during the election.
As a part of CMEV’s voter education efforts, this publication provides a brief introduction to a number of judgments at Sri Lankan courts concerning election violations. CMEV hopes that these case summaries will help voters and activists understand the legal background of Parliamentary elections. (In Sinhala).
CMEV has prepared a report which provides an account of the incidence of hate speech and divisive language it has observed in the campaign for the Parliamentary General Election 2020. The report details notable incidents of hate speech and divisive language, and trends in them throughout the campaign period. It also highlights a public awareness campaign CMEV has undertaken addressing hate speech and divisive language.
As a part of its voter education efforts during the Parliamentary Election 2020, CMEV disseminated a Guide on Polling Agents to political parties planning to deploy Polling Agents elaborating on the role, powers, duties and responsibilities of Polling Agents in elections.
CMEV is pleased to present its final Election Observation Report for the 2019 Presidential Election. The report provides an overview of the election overall; key election features and trends; a summation of CMEV’s election observation activities; trends in election violations it finds notable; and recommendations for all election stakeholders to strengthen and improve the election process in Sri Lanka.
It also provides detail, data and tabulations on election violations observed and recorded by CMEV during the pre-election, Election Day and post-election periods; as well as the communiqués and materials CMEV published throughout the election period.
ANFREL and six domestic election observation groups, including ANFREL members PAFFREL and CMEV, release today the “COVID-19 Code of Conduct for Election Observers” ahead of the 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary elections.
This document is a joint initiative from organizations both domestic and international intending to observe the parliamentary elections of Sri Lanka. The polls were initially scheduled for 25 April 2020 but have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the country. While the date at which the elections could be held remains uncertain, pending a ruling from the Supreme Court on the matter, election monitoring organizations have decided to plan ahead and draft guidelines so that election observation may take place in the most responsible manner.
This document first provides an overview of some of the interventions made by CMEV in this period. It also details media coverage of CMEV’s activities and interventions. Finally, the document provides a snapshot of activity on CMEV’s official website and Facebook pages, as indicators of CMEV’s online operations during this period.
This short guide has been prepared by CMEV to offer election stakeholders and voters a brief overview of some key considerations for holding an election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It provides an outline of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected elections worldwide; special health and safety measures taken for elections already held worldwide; and important factors to note in the SriLankan electoral context. It is hoped that these considerations are taken into account by all election stakeholders when decisions are made regarding the Parliamentary General Election in Sri Lanka.
A critical dialogue on ‘the new provincial council’s election system” organized by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in partnership with People’s Action for Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL) with the participation of all key stakeholders including Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government, political parties and Academia as well as Civil Society Leaders held recently in Colombo.
A brief review article was submitted under the title of “ Local Authorities Elections: Some Observations on Post Election Results Period, Lesson Learnt and Way Forward” by Gayani Premathilake, Attorney – At- Law, Legal Officer, Ministry of Provincial Councils & Local Government and Manjula Gajanayake, National Coordinator – CMEV in this event.
CMEV has taken a new initiative to identify and facilitate the voting rights of migrant workers in Sri Lanka that amounts to over two million persons. As one of the major contributing source to the national income through foreign revenue, the need to facilitate their inalienable right to participate in the political decision-making process has been recognized and addressed by a comprehensive document compiled with this regard. It encompasses the pertinent legal background and numerous methods utilized in other countries to avail out-of-country voters with facilities to exercise their right to vote.
Centre for Monitoring Election Violence is the first election observing organization in Sri Lanka that spearheaded numerous initiatives beneficial to the realization of voting rights of persons with disabilities with the auspices of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka. CMEV has produced a comprehensive document combining the disability classification, rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka and legal provisions to facilitate their political rights in line with the electoral process of Sri Lanka.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), as the very first election observing organization in Sri Lanka that spearheaded numerous initiatives beneficial to the realization of voting rights of the persons with disabilities with the auspices of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, has been able to reach out to over 250 representatives of leading Disabled Persons’ Organizations from over 20 districts around the country and obtain their input regarding the issues faced by them concerning the electoral process.
The focal point on persons with disabilities and older persons, that has been appointed by the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, also took part in these consultative discussions where the issues of the said DPOs were presented and suitable recommendations deliberated with the relevant stakeholders related to the electoral process.
Download the report in English here and Sinhala here.
The two national level elections which were held in the year 2015 can be regarded as the elections which acquired the widest visibility and prominent attention in the recent past. While those elections were apparently referred to as free and fair in every sense, the enormous efforts taken by the relevant stakeholders to preserve the integrity of the said election should also be commended emphatically. The greatest visibility was received at the time with this regard was by the Department of Elections, Department of Police and the election monitoring organizations.
One of the predominantly noticeable trends throughout the period in which the said elections were held, was the inculcation of the role of the then Commissioner of Elections Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya in diverse ways by the print media through newspapers by way of cartoons. Undoubtedly, grasping the way in which the media operated during such a crucial period would be instrumental for anyone who is exploring the history of elections in Sri Lanka. In that regard, the elements reflected through the cartoons which appeared in the newspapers at the time, will provide invaluable insights to anybody who is investigating about the history of elections in Sri Lanka.
During the last Presidential Election, CMEV was able to mainstream its Election observation process, providing opportunities for Persons with Disabilities to work at CMEV office, as well as in the field as short term Election observers. At the same time, CMEV worked to Educate and inform Persons With Disabilities to exercise their right to vote while proactively engaging in the civil life without being discriminated on grounds of disability. Currently CMEV has taken a new initiative to provide Braille printing of all available main Election Acts and Regulations as well as produce booklets and other awareness material on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the role and responsibilities of Government agencies including Local Authorities, towards protecting their rights.
The two books in Sinhala and Tamil can be downloaded below;