(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The prospects for a successful General Election are not negative and there are no serious issues in the way of holding a poll, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya asserted yesterday following the successful conclusion of a mock election held according to health guidelines in Ambalangoda.
The mock election, the first in a series to be held in every district under the COVID-19 health regulations was held from 7 am to 12 noon yesterday at the Ambalangoda Wilegoda Sri Dhammayukthikaramaya Viharaya premises.
“At the moment, the prospect of an election is not negative. The mock election results will differ according to the facilities available in different areas.
Right now there are no serious issues. In addition, we will have to recruit around 15,000 additional staff to provide sanitizing facilities at polling stations. We also have to provide masks and other facilities,” Deshapriya explained to the media.
“Today, this rehearsal has been carried out with great care to find out how we can hold the election under these circumstances. We do not want another wave of the pandemic due to election activities. So we will take every precaution. During the rehearsal today, about 100 votes were cast within one hour. This means we can project 900 votes cast within nine hours if the voter turnout is good,” Deshapriya said.
The main purpose of the mock election was to practice carrying out election procedures adhering to health regulations for COVID-19 and to identify issues that may arise when operating a polling station during the pandemic. Nearly 200 people in the area were selected to participate in the mock election. Special attention was given on checking identity cards, wearing masks and using sanitizers during the rehearsal. Cotton buds were used to apply ink on the voters’ fingers without direct contact. After casting the vote, the voters were advised to use hand sanitizers provided at the polling station.
The EC Chairman also pointed out that Democracy will “cost” because the election, which must take place, will require additional funds due to new health precautions.
“Previous elections cost around rupees million 600-700. It will take two more weeks to predict the budget for this election with all the additional expenses.” Deshapriya added. He noted it is important to hold the election as the country may switch into a dictatorial system in the absence of democratic representatives.