The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) is concerned by widespread reports of Sri Lankan voters not receiving polling cards to vote in the upcoming presidential elections, and not finding their names on the 2018 electoral register after consulting their Grama Niladharis, or on the online electoral register. CMEV has to date received over 100 individual complaints from voters in this regard.
CMEV raised this issue with the Election Commission last week, but is yet to receive a response. Voter concern about this issue is growing across social media channels. Messages providing different and contradictory instructions to voters on how to verify their voter registration, and how to approach Grama Niladharis if they find themselves not on the register, are being shared widely.
CMEV is particularly concerned of possible confusion and potential disruptive incidents at polling centres on election day if/when voters find out that they are unable to vote due to their names not being on the electoral register as they expected.
CMEV requests the Electoral Commission to clarify the situation immediately, and to provide clear instructions to voters if they have not received polling cards and/or find out they are not on the electoral register.
CMEV also requests the Election Commission provide details about what instruction has been provided to election officials to resolve electoral registration issues on election day.
CMEV advises voters in Sri Lanka to check their electoral registration details on the Election Commission’s electoral register website (at https://eservices.elections.gov.lk/myVoterRegistration.aspx), particularly if they have not received a polling card.
If, after submitting their details, voters find their names on the electoral register, CMEV advises:
- To take a screenshot with them to their polling centre on. election day, and
- To carefully confirm where their polling centre is
- A polling card is not mandatory in order to vote – a valid form of ID is all that is required, if one is registered.
If, after submitting their details, voters find out that their names are not on the electoral register, CMEV advises:
- To contact their District Election Officer or the national Election Secretariat to clarify their registration.
- A list of District Election Officer contact details can be found at: https://elections.gov.lk/web/en/contact-us/contact-information/district-offices/
The national Election Secretariat is located at Sarana Mawatha, Rajagiriya, Colombo and can be contacted at 011 2868441 or 011 2868442.
CMEV argues all voters behave in a calm and lawful manner and to not act in any way to threaten the conduct of a peaceful election. CMEV is asking the Election Commission to make a statement clarifying this issue in the hope of ensuring this outcome.
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Presidential Election 2019 Media Communiqué, 29th October 2019
Colombo, Sri Lanka
In the 40 days since the announcement of the 2019 Presidential Election, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has recorded 534 verified incidents of election law violations. The following trends have been particularly observable recently:
Using minors for political promotions
The election period has seen the continued use of minors in various ways to promote the presidential candidates. The National Child Protection Authority has already made it clear that it is wrong to use minors for political promotion.
In the following cases and instances, the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) and the New Democracy Front (NDF) have directly violated these legal provisions:
- Use of minors in school uniform for a propaganda advertisement of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the presidential candidate of SLPP.
- Use of a school uniformed minor for the newspaper advertisement of SLPP.
- Use of minors in the the photograph of Mangala Samaraweera, Minister and representative of the NDF election campaign, and circulating that picture on social media.
- Use of a child with body paint for political promotion at a SLPP rally in Uva Paranagama on 25th October 2019.
- Use of minors’ pictures in the website of SLPP candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
CMEV has already made a written complaint to the National Child Protection Authority regarding these matters.
Using Government School Premises for Election Campaigns
CMEV was informed that the SLPP attempted to use the Galenbindunu Wewa primary school ground for a public rally with the direct intervention of the North Central Province Governor. This is despite there being numerous available places for holding public rallies in the Anuradhapura Gallenbindunu Wewa town.
use of government school premises for campaign purposes and the intervention of
high level public officials sets entirely the wrong precedent.
Not displaying election candidate and symbol during campaigning
The SLPP reportedly did not display its candidate and its ballot symbol in the pandol (thoarana) which was built in Minuwangoda town along the road, but photographs of the party leader and other regional organisers have been displayed. According to election law, it is illegal to display the pictures of the candidate and symbol.
Engaging in election campaigns that disturbed to religious and national reconciliation
During the election period, a number of campaign activities, especially by the Podu Jana Eksath Peramuna, demonstrate extremist national and religious views in various forms. For example, a female councilor in Kandy was arrested while spreading leaflets with extremist opinions. That leaflet was a violation of section 85 of the Presidential Election Act, No. 15 of 1981 meaning that the leaflet did not display the publisher and printer.
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12 hours, 20th October 2019, Colombo, Sri Lanka – Assault on supporters of the New Democratic Front, Western Province, Kaluthara District, Panadaura Electorate.
As reported to CMEV last night, on 19th October 2019 an SLPP supporter has assaulted two supporters of New Democratic Front. It was further reported to CMEV that the aforesaid supporter has intimidated those two supporters of NDF by showing a light fire arm in his possession.
This is the first instance of intimidation in the presidential election where a light fire arm has been used, following the submission of nominations on 7th of October.
The two NDF supporters, M.S. Nihalsinghe and Nawarathna Banda, were intimidated by the show of a light fire arm while passing the Wadduwa cemetery by Sisira Mendis, a supporter of Sri Lanka Pudujana Peramuna. As reported to CMEV he has arrived at the scene by a Pajero bearing the number plate CAA 1544. As disclosed to CMEV by Nihalsinghe who had been subjected to the assault, Sisira Mendis has been under the influence of alcohol at the time in which the assault took place.
Furthermore M.S. Nihalsinghe, who was assaulted has made a complaint to Wadduwa Police station regarding this incident under CIB 2’27/153. There is a possibility of suspicions arising due to this incident not being reported as an election related complaint in spite of the conclusive evidence of its affiliation with elections.
It has been further reported to CMEV that although this incident involves an intimidation carried out using light fire arm, the suspect has been bailed out shortly without any difficulty.
While making a statement to CMEV, Nihalsinghe mentioned that Sisira Mendis who has been accused for the assault is a strong supporter of SLPP SLPP and the fact that he clearly mentioned the involvement of the light fire arm in the said incident during his statement given to the police. Upon further probing the matter further with this regard, however, CMEV learnt from the OIC of Wadduwa police station that M.S. Nihalinghe had not mentioned the involvement of the light fire arm in his statement given to the police.
It is the view of CMEV that the perpetuation of violence and assault by the supporters of different political parties in various locations should not be treated as isolated incidents in a context where a decrease can be seen with regard to the election related violence in Sri Lanka. CMEV wishes to emphasise that political leaders as well as regional politicians must extend their fullest support towards the concerted efforts of the Election Commission and Sri Lanka Police in order to ensure a free and fair election.
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