Most crowded prez election yet; could cost EC Rs. 5bn

The upcoming presidential election has already turned out to be the most crowded ever in terms of candidates, and is expected to cost the Elections Commission up to Rs. 5 billion.

Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya told reporters today that 23 would-be candidates had paid their deposit money to the Commission by this morning.

Of the 23, 12 are from registered political parties while the remaining 11 are independent candidates. Two of the depositors are Buddhist monks, and only one is female.

“We expect the final count will be over 25 candidates. This will be a tiresome exercise for election officials and grama seva niladharis. One candidate can send two polling agents per polling booth. That’s 50 per booth and five per candidate for counting centre. There isn’t enough space,” said Deshapriya, noting that temporary huts would have to be constructed for the process.

“We can’t limit the number, however. It’s in the act, and it’s their democratic right. All 25 contestants will run with the expectation of winning,” he added.

The Commissioner said funds would have to be increased.

“More funds will definitely be needed. We had estimated a requirement of Rs. 4 to 4.5 billion. It might go up to Rs. 5 billion,” he said.

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