National Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday that a new polls register would be certified on October 5 to enable the conduct of Provincial Council elections.
This register, he told the Sunday Times, would see an increase of 200,000 voters countrywide and would be devoid of repetitions. “We have taken measures to exclude voters who have registered more than once,” he said.
Mr. Deshapriya said that, in accordance with the law, he had earlier proposed to gazette the new register on October 31. “However, if we were to have PC elections before the end of the year, we have to certify the register on a date during the first week of October,” he said.
Once this is done, the Polls Chief said, there were only two days available this year for PC elections. They were December 22 and 29. However, December 22 was a Poya Day, on which elections are legally prohibited, like on a Sunday. Moreover, he pointed out that December 29 was found difficult since the financial year comes to an end on December 31. State officials will be busy during that period.
The new polls register, according to Mr Deshapriya, reflects a decrease compared to the increase in the 2013-2015 period. It was then 300,000 and it was due to a major campaign for voter registration. For example, he said, a campaign was carried out in Puttalam to register those in the Kaffir community. Similarly, there was also a campaign in Batticaloa to register descendants of the Portuguese.
“This time we are trying to register as many as possible from the gypsy community and Indian-origin Tamils who are resident outside the plantation areas,” he revealed. Two other areas where attention was being focused are migrant workers and tenants. Usually, Mr Deshapriya pointed out, landlords did not like their tenants being registered. They were now being categorised in such a way that their registration could only be used for electoral purposes, he said.