[CITIZENS' Mail - (05-02-2018)] | Daily News

[CITIZENS' Mail - (05-02-2018)]

Mission of Elections Commission

With the installation of the independent Elections Commission it is satisfying to witness those polls- laws being observed to the letter where the ongoing campaigns of LG election candidates are concerned. We raise our hats to the Chairman of the Commission and his officials for their dedicated efforts supported by the independent election monitors.

However, it is pertinent to state that the real success of an election process finally lies in the valid vote percentage. Historically, unpolled number of votes at our elections has shown the potential to reverse the results. For example, in the last Presidential election in 2015, it was found that the majority obtained by the winner was 449,072 while the number of registered voters who did not cast their vote remained at an astounding 2,780,113!

It is a fact that the unpolled number included lethargic voter community, those employed abroad, other non-residents, patients, disabled and those not holding valid IDs. The irony however is, a substantial number of ‘otherwise- eligible’ voters were also prevented from voting due to non-registration in the current polls register.

Shouldn’t this scenario spur the election officials to find ways and means to make the electorate cast their vote in higher numbers as far as possible? In countries like Australia voting at an election is compulsory. In democratic Sri Lanka, they discourage people from voting by showing the ‘Rule book’ and cast the blame on the voter. Should it be the case?

In simple terms, what is required on an election day between 7.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. is to ensure legitimacy of the votes cast by preventing impersonators, foreigners (Non-Citizens) and those citizens below 18 years of age from voting as citizens of Sri Lanka. Simple identification based on appearance, accent, the language spoken and identification by the local polling agents alone will prove that a person is a local or a foreigner. Only if a person is likely to be below 18 years, that the officials should exercise caution by calling for a valid Identity card carrying the date of birth.

In order to fully avoid impersonation, it is necessary to hold any election on one day without holding in installments. It is commendable that the Elections Commission has taken steps to hold local Govt. elections on one day.

Finally, it is necessary to reiterate that the objective is to get more citizens to vote at an election to ensure Democracy.

Thus, there’s no gain saying in describing the ultimate mission of the Elections Commission as ensuring maximum polling percentage and minimum rejected poll percentage.

Bernard Fernando


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