Polling station in Sri Lanka

Everything is in place to conduct the much awaited ‘Local Government Elections 2018’ today.

This is the first time that islandwide Local Government (LG) polls are being held on a single day making it the largest election in the country.

The Local Government Elections is being held after two years during which Special Commissioners had been appointed to administer the Local Government bodies.

The newly introduced mixed-member proportional system sans preferential votes will be practiced for the first time at this election.

Following a new delimitation of electoral wards, the number of LG bodies have increased from 336 to 341 (24 Municipal Councils, 41 Urban Councils, 276 Pradeshiya Sabhas), and the total number of members have increased from 4,486 to 8,356.

The elections will be held for 340 out of the 341 LG authorities.

The election to the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha had to be postponed due to an interim injunction issued by the Supreme Court following a petition received against it.

Out of the total number of members, 60 percent will be elected through the First-Past-the-Post System and 40 percent through the Proportional Representation (PR) system. There are 4,750 single member wards and 169 multi-member wards.

This is also the first time, 25 percent quota has been reserved for female representation.

A total of 56,066 candidates have entered the fray from the ticket of various political parties and independent groups. A total of 15,760,867 registered voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at around 13,374 polling centres.

The Election Commission said the voting would commence at 7.00am and end at 4.00pm.

The voter, this time around, only needs to cast a single vote for preferred political party at the ward level. He or she will not have to choose a preferred candidate, but the list of candidates contesting from each party and independent groups will be displayed at the polling stations. The first election result is expected before the midnight today.

A voting card is not compulsory and the electors whose name is present in the voting registry can exercise their franchise after producing a valid identity document. The National Identity Card, valid Passport, valid postal ID, valid Driving License, Government Pensioner’s Identity Card (issued through the Divisional Secretary), Elder’s Identity Card, and Temporary Identity Card (issued through the Department of Elections) are recognized as valid identity documents for voting.

Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said a total of 65,758 police and STF personnel has been deployed to provide security for the polls. Out of them 26,840 Police and STF personnel are deployed at polling stations.

Election monitoring groups, Campaign for Free and Fair Election (CaFFE), People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFEREL) and Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) observed an atmosphere conducive to hold free and fair election prevailed in the country. They observed incidents related to pre-election violence and internal clashes in political parties were comparatively less this time around as there was no competition among the candidates for preferential votes.

In addition to the local polls observers, a team of foreign polls observers have also arrived in the country. The delegation includes four observers from India, two from the Maldives, two from Indonesia and two from the Association of World Election Bodies headquartered in South Korea.

All government schools were closed yesterday in view of LG Elections. The postal vote for the LG elections held on January 22, 25 and 26. The Election Commission had accepted around 560,000 applications for postal voting.

The estimated cost to conduct the LG Elections was approximately Rs 4 billion.

The last Local Government Elections were conducted in 2011 in three stages on March 17, July 23 and August 10.

(Source: Daily News)