Polls Health Guidelines to be gazetted soon | Daily News


Election Commission Chairman assures:

Polls Health Guidelines to be gazetted soon

All health safeguards enforced at polling stations:
Strict overnight security for ballot boxes:

Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday expressed optimism that the health guidelines for the August 5 General Election would be gazetted soon, resolving the current delay and impasse.

“Discussions are underway at the moment with the legal authorities and we are confident that the regulations will be gazetted soon,” Chairman Deshapriya told editors and senior journalists of the print media at the Commission yesterday.

“Democracy is a costly exercise, especially this time as we have to spend more than Rs.10 billion to hold this election in line with these health guidelines. Every vote is valuable, every vote counts,” Deshapriya said. Deshapriya reiterated his call for all eligible citizens to vote on August 5, saying all safeguards will be in place to ensure their health and safety. “Do not fear to come to the polling station. All safeguards are there, from social distancing to temperature checks.”

Chairman Deshapriya urged the media to stress the importance of voting to their readers, listeners and viewers. He also noted that the media should spread awareness on the election rules and regulations for the benefit of both citizens and candidates and also report any violations of election laws by candidates or supporters.

The EC Chairman emphasized that the danger posed by the Coronavirus has not entirely passed since it is raging globally even though the disease has been controlled here to a great extent. “We should ensure the health of the nation for elections to be held and democracy to survive. However, we cannot postpone elections forever because then there is a real danger that people will come to a point where they will abhor elections. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself concurred with this view.”

He said that all arrangements have been made to ensure the security of ballot boxes overnight on August 5 as counting will take place only the following day. The results will be announced by midnight on August 6. Party agents can monitor this process.

Referring to complaints that propaganda activities of candidates have been severely affected by the prevailing situation as well as by certain decisions of the Commission, the Chairman outlined four ways of engaging in propaganda – display of the number in the candidate’s own vehicle; distribution of handbills via house to house visits; pocket meetings and advertising. Posters and cutouts are strictly prohibited.

A special 24 hour hotline 071 9160000 has been set up by the EC to receive complaints of election law violations via WhatsApp and Viber.

Referring to differences of opinion among the three Commissioners, the EC Chairman it was natural for three persons to hold different views, but when it comes to the official work of the Commission they always arrive at a majority consensus.

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