EC to announce Polls date on Monday | Daily News


EC to announce Polls date on Monday

Preferential numbers too to be issued
Health personnel to man polling stations
Health, social distancing guidelines to be strictly observed
EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya

The date of the General Election and the date to issue the preferential vote numbers will be announced on Monday, National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said.

Observing that the NEC has received the green light of health authorities to go ahead with the Election, Deshapriya said the Gazette declaring the new date would be issued on Monday after a Commission meeting.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the Commission, Deshapriya said a health official would be deployed at each polling station this time. He added that 5-7 polling stations would be clustered and a doctor, two nurses and a health assistant would be assigned to each of them. Like mobile patrols, they will have to monitor each polling station under their purview about four times a day on the day of the Election and the day before.    

“The health staff members, who are on active service including the PHIs and PHMs, are eligible to apply for the postal vote and the deadline to accept their applications has been extended till Monday (8),” he noted.

He requested the political parties to refrain from holding massive election rallies or musical shows. The supporters of candidates must not be allowed to gather at Election Offices unnecessarily. Social distancing must be maintained at pocket meetings and if a class room space is used, not more than 30 persons must be accommodated. The facilities to wash hands must be arranged at all these places.      

He said the health guidelines for the Election received by the NEC yesterday would be distributed among all relevant officials and would be conveyed to the political party representatives.

Stressing that the Election process has now begun, Deshapriya said the district level offices receiving election complaints are operational from yesterday and would be in full-swing from Monday. He added that the use of State media and State property is being thoroughly monitored.

He said the Local Government heads who are contesting the upcoming Election must go on leave from their respective posts. He added that necessary legal action has been initiated against the instances of violating the Election Law over the past few weeks.    

“The most important thing is to assure a level playing field to all political parties. Going ahead with the Election does not mean that the COVID-19 threat is over. The health authorities say the threat will remain until a vaccine is found. Not only this Election, but also the much delayed Provincial Council Elections which would come next will have to be held under these circumstances. Therefore people must remember the golden rules of social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands frequently. Keeping COVID-19 at bay will help hold a free, fair and credible election,” Deshapriya commented.

Deshapriya also rejected the criticisms that the NEC was purposely delaying the Election, adding that he would argue at length on that point with anybody who claims so. He added that public transport facilities are coming back to normal only on Monday and that the Election Officers who used to work long hours during election periods could not do so under the prevailing circumstances.    

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