As a part of its voter education efforts during the Parliamentary Election 2020, CMEV disseminated a Guide to postal voters explaining what postal votes are, how to cast them and their legal implications
CMEV conducted its first evaluation of the ground situation during the election campaign for the Parliamentary General Election 2020. This observation mission was conducted two weeks since the official campaigns of the major political parties and candidates were launched. Four field teams together with field observers conducted these field evaluations in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa, Digamadulla, Nuwara-Eliya and Monaragala electoral districts with the primary objectives of observing the commitment of political parties and candidates in following the health guidelines for conducting election campaigning amidst the COVID-19 outbreak; gauging public interest in participating in the elections; and developments in the ground campaigns. This report summarises the field findings.
July 19, 2020 – The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) welcomes the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services finally gazetting the COVID-19 Elections Regulations on July 17, 2020. This comes 38 days after the ‘Health Guidelines for Conducting the Elections amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak’ (‘the original guidelines’) were first issued by the Ministry on June 09, 2020 and only 19 days before Election Day. Moreover, CMEV expresses its concern that a number of changes have been made to the original guidelines from when they were first published to them being gazetted as regulations. In particular:
the maximum number of persons permitted to attend a meeting has been increased from 100 to 300, and 500 if the party leader is attending
the maximum number of persons permitted to engage in door-to-door canvassing has been increased from 3 to 5
numerous provisions in the original guidelines have been omitted from the gazetted regulations altogether, including provisions relating to: checking and bundling of ballot papers at District Returning offices (section 2.5 of the original guidelines); polling booths (2.9); conducting election in the quarantine centres (2.10); receiving ballot boxes at counting centres (2.11); counting centre etiquette (2.12); results tabulation centres (2.13); transport of staff and materials (2.14); special instructions for Police officers (3); disinfection (4); waste disposal (5); after the election (6). Also missing is the Health Administrative Structure outlined in section 7 to implement the guidelines.
CMEV is alarmed by these changes given that the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country appears to be worsening. Relaxing physical campaigning restrictions is likely to expose more voters to COVID-19 through increased campaigning activities. Relaxing the restrictions on meeting attendance depending on the attendance of party leaders seems especially illogical.
Taking all this into consideration, CMEV requests the Minister of Health and Indigenous Medical Services and the Director-General of Health Services to:
Gazette the remaining provisions in the originally published guidelines, and
Provide an explanation to the voting public about why the originally published guidelines have been relaxed in this manner, and what steps they will take if the relaxed guidelines contribute to the pandemic situation becoming worse
Work with healthcare workers, particularly PHIs, to resolve existing issues and to promote the regulations and educate the public
CMEV is fully committed to the election being held in a free, fair and safe manner, however, it insists that the government and health authorities have a responsibility to guarantee the health of all voters in the process, beyond short-term partisan electoral gains.
CMEV wrote to the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine and the Director General Health Services questioning the unusual delay in gazetting COVID19 Health Guidelines for conducting the Parliamentary General Election. CMEV seeks assurance that the delay is not for any political advantage.
An extraordinary gazette notification containing the Code of Conduct for contesting political parties, independent groups and candidates of the elections has been published.
The Election Commission said the relevant Code of Conduct is issued in terms of Section 8(8) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981 as amended by the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Act, No. 58 of 2009.
Download Code of Conduct for Contesting Political Parties/Independent Groups And Candidates of the Elections in Sinhala / Tamil / English
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.