‘Advance voting’ plan shelved due to legal glitch

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The plan to facilitate ‘mobile polling booths’ for voters at quarantine centres or undergoing self-quarantine at home, to cast their ballots on July 31 was abandoned due to lack of legal provisions, National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said. Speaking to Media following a Commission meeting yesterday, Deshapriya said the plan had to be reversed as the country’s existing legal framework does not provide for ‘Advance Voting’.

Observing that the NEC has received several complaints on allowing early voting for persons at quarantine centres or undergoing home quarantine, Deshapriya said questions have been raised why similar arrangements could not be provided for remand prisoners and such like.

“Now we have faced a problem. We have decided to consult legal experts immediately.What we tried was to take one small step towards advanced voting, and see whether we can push the boundaries of election laws in the wake of the Coronavirus. However, various parties have objected to the move and they have even pointed out that there had been court verdicts in relation to this matter in the past.That is to say that they would institute legal action if we move ahead with the plan. Therefore, the early voting will not take place as previously scheduled on July 31,” he explained.

In addition to the complaints, Deshapriya further said that election authorities have also encountered logistical problems in going ahead with the plan.

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