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Sri Lanka mulls voting for citizens abroad

Sep 15, 2016 19:08 PM GMT+0530 | 2 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Elections commission is keen to ensure millions of Sri Lankans living abroad are granted voting rights making the electoral process more inclusive, a top official said today.

Chief elections commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said he expected parliament to enact laws that would allow some two million Sri Lankans living and working abroad to exercise their franchise at national elections.

"In the interest of making our elections more inclusive, the commission is of the view that we should have a mechanism for those (Sri Lankan citizens) living abroad to vote," he told the Foreign Correspondents’' Association of Sri Lanka.

Under current laws, only citizens who turn up at polling booths between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. are allowed to vote. A few public servants directly involved in conducting the poll and providing security are allowed to cast their ballots by post.

Deshapriya said he was also hoping that a postal voting system or some other mechanism could be devised to help many others carrying out essential work during the polling period to exercise their franchise without going to the polling booth during the stipulated period.

Addressing the FCA on the World democracy Day, Deshapriya said he wanted even homeless people in the country to be able to participate in elections and a survey was underway to get an understanding of the numbers involved.

He believed there were about 1,500 people in the capital alone who did not have a permanent abode and literally lived on the streets.

"Even for these individuals, we are trying to come up with a system whereby they can register as electors," he said.

He said the Commission was keenly following the Indian Elections Commission which had been asked by the country's supreme court to device a mechanism for Indians abroad to vote at home.

"We are closely following what India is doing," Deshapriya said. "There are several models we are currently looking at."

Among them were the practice of allowing proxy votes as well as Sri Lankans abroad to vote at the nearest Sri Lankan diplomatic mission. However, questions were raised about the practicality of such arrangements in the middle east where a large number of Sri Lankan expatriates are employed.

"We are not sure if employers in the middle east and in place like South Korea will grant lave for our workers to go out and vote, but we are looking at several models."

About 12 per cent of Sri Lanka's 15 million electorate live abroad.

He said the government was also taking a census of people in luxury condos in and around the capital to ensure residents are registered to vote.

Many affluent people neglected to register in time while the very poor sections too were unenthusiastic about getting into voter lists in time. (COLOMBO, Sept 15, 2016)


 

2 Comments

  1. First Amendment September 19, 03:59 AM

    Few things that are wrong with this plan.

    1) Many expatriates work in the middle east, and, many of those countries don't have voting rights, especially to women. While many European and American Expatriates do get postal votes, I sincerely doubt it that ME rulers and employers would extend the same right to Asian workers, whatever the class is.

    Keep in mind, that a substantial portion of the workers are semi and unskilled, In such a situation, the master and mistress will not have a vote in their own country but the house workers will. Look at the problems that it will cause in these politically restrictive countries. So no country will allow for this.

    2) People who are far removed from the ground realities and issues facing this country will not be in a position to differentiate fact from fiction. And most politicians lie about their achievements and failures and also the issues facing this country. Many will make false claims.

    The voices that are loudest are generally the nationalist jackasses who have destroyed this country and its ethnic harmony. This kind of politician will be the one to get the most number of votes from those who are ill informed. This will see the wrong kind of politician entering parliament3) Expatriate voters will be able to vote on issues that don't affect them and vote in politicians who do do not cater to them.

    This is not a form of form of democracy. Democracy requires participation and responsibility by both the government and the governed.

  2. Lion September 15, 08:22 AM

    I dont think that anyone will be intersted about this mad politics in SL

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