The British Tamil Conservatives (BTC) in a press release urged the European Union election observers to be vigilant with regard to possible manipulation of preferential vote counting in polling stations in the upcoming General Election in Sri Lanka.
To ensure the will of the people is held, BTC calls for all three counting processes including the counting of preferential votes should be conducted by election officials and EU election monitors ensure this” , BTC said.
The full text of the press release is below:
The parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on the17th August 2015n Sri Lanka will result in either the return of the Mahinda Rajapakse rule or lead to possible continuation of the UNP led coalition espousing ‘good governance’. Given the above, the results of the upcoming ;parliamentary elections are important for all Peoples of Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is paramount the elections are conducted freely and fairly.
The British Tamil Conservatives (BTC) are pleased to see election monitors from the EU already on the ground monitoring the campaign phase. We also understand that the election monitors will oversee the voting and counting processes at select voting centres and counting offices. We would like to highlight a particular area of the counting process, which has been subjected to manipulation in past elections.
The parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka requires voters to firstly vote for a party of their choice and then if they wish to, vote for up to 3 candidates within the party of their choice.
The process of counting of votes can be classified into three stages.
Stage 1 – Counting of the number of ballot papers in each box and transferring them to the trough.
Stage II – Sorting and counting the ballot papers according to the valid votes received and the preparation of the statement of votes received by each party and group in the Electoral District.
Stage III – Recording the preferences received by each candidate in the Tally Sheet and transferring them through a series of Summary Sheets into a District List for a party or a group, which gives the total of preferences received by each candidate in the Electoral District.
In the past, Stage III of the counting process has not always been conducted with the same rigour as the first two stages, given the allocation of parliamentary seats by party had already been determined. Election Monitors in the past have reported instances where the process of counting preferential votes for candidates within a party had been handed to over party workers. This scenario has enabled party leadership to manipulate the counting process to promote the candidates of their choice.
There are serious concerns that certain parties could utilise the opportunity arising from the above process to ensure candidates of their choice are declared winners irrespective of peoples’ choice.
For example, the UPFA leadership could manipulate preferential votes counting to ensure candidates supportive of Mahinda Rajapakse are declared winners.
Therefore to ensure the will of the people is held, BTC calls for all three counting processes including the counting of preferential votes should be conducted by election officials and EU election monitors ensure this. (Tamil Diplomat)