8 April 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1.30pm: Polls for the Parliamentary Elections opened at 7 am this morning. A few major incidents of pre-poll violence against party supporters and polling agents were reported to the Centre for Monitoring Elections (CMEV). Following the commencement of polls a significant number of incidents mainly related to the continuing campaigning by political parties and their supporters were reported.
Problems with Procedures Relating to Voting
Discrepancies relating to Marking of Finger for Voting Purposes
CMEV was also informed of discrepancies in the use of indelible ink at polling centres across the country. This pertains to the finger that is to be marked signifying that an individual has cast their vote. Reports of discrepancies were from Colombo, Jaffna and Vavuniya districts where voters informed that either the little finger or the ring finger was used. There were also reports of the ink being easily removed by voters. In a notice issued on 7th April, the Commissioner of Elections reported that the ring finger was to be marked with indelible ink. Several voters informed CMEV that polling agents who were questioned on the use of the little finger instead of the ring finger as informed by the Commissioner, stated that they were unaware of such a notice. CMEV is concerned with the discrepancies in the practice of marking the finger which can lead to malpractices and to people voting more than once. CMEV urges the Commissioner and his department to immediately inform all relevant election officials of the recommended practice and to ensure that the uniform practice is followed.
Problems with Transport Arrangements for IDPs:
CMEV was informed that more than 100 voters who were residents in Manik Farm in Vavuniya were transported to Vavuniya Tamil Maha Vidyalaya instead of polling centres located in Oddusudan, Arivithotam and Nedunkeni at 10am. CMEV was informed by the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) for transportation in Vavuniya that the IDPs had mistakenly got into the wrong bus. CMEV also spoke to several IDPs who informed that no information was given when buses had arrived at Manik Farm and that they were unaware of the exact measures for transportation. CMEV was informed by the ARO that this problem was being addressed. CMEV urges the Commissioner of Elections and his staff to take all measures necessary to ensure that all IDP voters are provided correct information in all languages and the transportation to polling centres without delay and hindrance..
Threatening of Polling Agents
Kandy District, Nawalapitiya Polling Division, Dolosbage Polling Centers (no. 10-15)
UNP Secretary for Nawalapitiya Polling Division reported to CMEV that an unidentified group of individuals wearing masks have threatened the party agents of the United National Party(UNP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) at their homes. It is alleged that the group had forcibly taken the appointment letters, electoral lists and identity cards belonging to the party agents. They were also threatened not to make police complaints.
Threatening of Monitors
Puttalam District, Puttalam Polling Division, Palliwasalturei Muslim College Polling Station(no. 60):
CMEV monitors were threatened and warned not to monitor the polling process by the supporters of UPFA candidates Rishad Badudeen (No.01 of Wanni District) and K.A. Bais (No.01 of Puttalam District) when they attempted to enter Palliwasalturei Muslim College Polling Station at about 6.00 a.m.
Major Incident: Refusing Access to Monitors
Matara District , Deniyaya Electorate , Varalla MV, Polling Station (no 08)
CMEV Monitor reports that they were not allowed into the Polling Station at 8.00 am, by the Police official in charge, even after examination of his documents.
Continuous Campaigning on Election Day
CMEV received multiple reports from a number of districts relating to campaigning by political parties and their supporters after polls had opened. The main violation is the distribution of campaign material in close proximity to polling stations.
NORTH CENTRAL PROVINCE
PolonnaruwaDistrict,Polonnaruwa Polling Division, Polonnaruwa Royal Central College (No. 85) 7:40 am:
CMEV Monitor to Polonnaruwa reported that some leaflets displaying the preferential number of UNP candidates Earl Gunasekare (no 4) and Sachini Jayaratne (no 3) were seen scattered on the road to the polling station.
Polonnaruwa District, Polonnaruwa Polling Division, Polonnaruwa Royal Central Primary College (no. 85). 7:30 am
CMEV Monitor reported that some leaflets displaying the preferential numbers of UPFA candidates Maithripala Sirisena (no. 7) and Roshan Ranasinghe (no. 1) were distributed in the vicinity of the polling station.
Anuradhapura District,Kalawewa Polling Division, Mahasen Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station (no. 06), 7:55 am
CMEV mobile correspondent reported that approximately six supporters of UPFA candidate Duminda Dissanayake (n 6) were seen standing near the polling station wearing tea-shirts displaying the preferential number 06 of DumindaDissanayake
Anuradhapura District, Horowpatana Polling Division ,Mahakumbukwewa Vidyalaya (no. 32)
CMEV Mobile corresepondent reported at 7.40 am that some leaflets belonging to UPFA candidate S.M. Chandrasena (number 11), UNP candidate Sirisena Herath (number 12), and DNA candidate K.D.Lalkantha (number 7) were being distributed around the polling station.
Anuradhapura District, Anuradhapura Polling Division,Funeral community Hall Polling station (no. 37)
CMEV Mobile correspondent reported that some leaflets of UPFA candidate Duminda Disanayake (no 6) were being distributed at around 7.45 am near the polling station by his supporters who arrived there in an ash color cab without number plates
Anuradhapura District, Horowpathana Polling Division, Kahatagasdigiliya Central College -Hall No 02 Polling Station (no 37):
CMEV Mobile representative reported that some leaflets displaying the preferential numbers of UPFA candidate Weerakumara Dissanayake(n 37) were being distributed at around 7.10 am between Upuldeniya Cross Road and Kahatagasdigiliya Central College Polling station.
Kegalle District, Kegalle Polling Division, Pussella Gamini Junior School (no. 18):
CMEV monitor reported at 8.35 am that two members of the UPFA were seen distributing cards bearing the party symbol of the UPFA betel leaf and the candidate numbers of Jagath Balasooriya, (no. 2) and Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, (no. 8), in front of the polling station.
Kegalle District, Rambukkana Polling Division, Muwapitiya Maha Vidyalaya (no.24) :
CMEV mobile monitor reported at 8.45 am that a large number of posters belonging to UPFA candidates no. 8 Ranjith Siyambalapitiya (no. 8), Kanaka Hertat (no. 4) and Susanthika Jayasinghe (no. 12) were prominently displayed in close proximity to the polling station.
Kegalle District, Rambukkana Polling Division, Sujatha Kanishta Vidyalaya, Polling Station (no 21):
CMEV Mobile Monitor reported at 7.10 am that a three wheeler (Vehicle number 201-3853), bearing campaign stickers of candidate UPFA Kanaka Herath (no. 4) was parked near the polling station.
Kegalle District, Rambukkana Polling Division, RambukkanaPinnawalaMahaVidyalaya, Polling Station (no 27):
CMEV mobile monitor reported that at 7.00am, a Pajero (Vehicle number 32-7383), completely covered in campaign stickers of candidate Kanaka Herath (no. 4) was parked in front of the polling station for around ten minutes.
Matale District, Dambulla Polling Division, Namatagahawatta Muslim Maha Vidyalaya polling station, (no. 41)
CMEV mobile monitor reported supporters of UPFA candidate Janaka Bandara Tennakoon (no. 5) had been seen canvassing near the above mentioned polling center requesting the voters to cast their preference for candidate no. 5 at around 8.15 am.
Matale District, Dambulla Polling Division, MalingamuwaRajaye Maha Vidyalaya, (no. 11)
CMEV mobile monitor reported that model ballot papers indicating the preference number of UPFA candidate Janaka Bandara Tennakoon (no. 5) had been distributed around the Malingamuwa Rajaye Maha Vidyalaya polling center at 7.20 am.
Nuwara-Eliya District, Kotmale Polling Division, Kumbaloluwa Polling Center, (no. 45-46), 7.45am
CMEV field monitor reported handbills containing the preferential number of UPFA candidate J.M.C Jayasekara (no 6) had been distributed near the above mentioned polling center.
Kandy District, Nawalapitiya Polling Division, Saint Andrews Boys School Polling Center, (no. 57), 9.00 am: CMEV Field Monitor
CMEV Field Monitor reported that 6 Auto Rickshaws pasted with a poster of the preferential number of UPFA candidate Mahindananda Aluthgamage (no 4) were parked in front of the polling station for around ten minutes. At the same polling centre a group of 20 people had gathered around the auto rickshaws displaying campaign material.
Matale District, Matale Polling Division, Matale Smaliya Muslim Rajaye Maha Vidyalaya Polling Center, (no. 36)
CMEV Monitor reported that a 7 feet cut out of UPFA candidate, Hilmy Careem (no 2) had been prominently displayed near a shop located near the above mentioned polling center and had not been removed.
NORTH WESTERN PROVINCE
Kurunagala District, Galgamuwa Electorae, Janasetha Samurdhi Madura Polling Station (no. 31): The gatekeeper has influenced the voters so as to cast their votes to preferential number 15 of UPFA candidate about 7.45 a.m.
Kurunagala District, Mawathagama Polling Division, Pillassa Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station (no. 26): Some cards displaying the candidate number and the name of the UPFA candidate Johnston Fernando were distributed in the vicinity of the polling station at about 7.50 a.m.
Puttalam District, Puttalam Polling Division, St. Mary’s Junior School Polling Station (no. 36): Some leaflets displaying the candidate numbers of the UPFA candidates Indrani Dassanayake, K.A. Bais and the UNP candidate Kinsleylal Fernando were seen distributed around the polling station about 7.15 a.m.
Puttalam District, Puttalam Polling Division, St. Andrews Central College, Polling Station (no. 28): Some leaflets displaying the preferential numbers of the UPFA candidates Indrani Dassanayake, K.A. Bais and the UNP candidate Kinsleylal Fernando were seen distributed around the polling station about 7.19 a.m.
Trincomalee district, Muttur Polling Division, al-HambraMahaVidyalaya, polling station (no, 30):
CMEV monitor reported that UPFA supporters of S.M. Tawfik (no. 6), have been observed at around 9.30 am openly canvassing for him after polls opened. In some cases, the voters have been offered food and beverages from a boutique located 50 meters away from the polling station.
Transportation of Voters
Ratnapura District, Kolonna Polling Division, Maduwanwela Sri SaranandaVidyalaya, Polling station (no. 76):
CMEV Monitor Reported that a small bus bearing the candidate number of United People’s Freedom Alliance UPFA) candidate (no. 7) transported a group of garment factory workers and other voters to the polling station at around 7.30 am.