Presidential poll results will be delayed – Deshapriya
The cumbersome task of counting outsized ballots will delay the final announcement of the results of the forthcoming Presidential Election, the Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said today Oct 16, exactly a month before the poll.
Despite this difficulty, Deshapriya is promising that the result will be given “before lunchtime on November 18.”
The huge ballots are creating logistical nightmares for the staff.
He said that the only a limited number of ballots could be fitted into the existing ballot boxes, and the transport and handling of the new ballots will be time-consuming as well.
Counting the ballots will take more than three times the normal time, he said judging from the time a mock counting was carried out by staff.
He said the Elections Commission has contacted local plastic manufacturers to source ballot boxes that could take in the new ballots as the old boxes could only be stuffed with around 440 ballots. “This creates a problem as most of our polling booths have 1,500 voters,” he said.
He said the Elections staff had obtained mock ballot papers from the Government Printer and tried stuffing the existing ballot boxes from them.
The outsize ballots which have to accommodate 35 names, means the counting centres will need to be equipped with bigger tables and the normal-sized school rooms where much of the counting is done may have to be modified, the Chief Commissioner said.
All these changes are going to cost the country much more than the earlier estimated Rs 4 billion and may go up to 7 billion, Deshapriya added.
Kithmina Hewage- Institute of Policy Studies