LG polls Declining voter registrations irk EC | Sunday Observer

LG polls Declining voter registrations irk EC

With the enactment of the Local Authorities’ Elections (Amendment) Bill, paving the way to hold elections in the near future, the Elections Commission is faced with another hurdle with a sharp decrease reported in voter registration.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said that this can be attributed to the increasing number of luxury apartments and the logistical difficulty that the grama niladharis face in approaching residents of these apartments.

“Usually in the Colombo city you can expect a marginal increase or decrease due to various reasons. However, this time there is a considerable reduction in voter registration. One of the main reasons for this is the increasing number of luxury apartments,” Deshapriya said. Another reason that was pointed out, was that low income people are not much interested in registering themselves for voting.

According to the Chairman, they have noted that a change in attitude among youth and professionals where they have adopted a ‘quit politics’, ‘quit elections’ attitude.

“This is a very big problem. Therefore, we have initiated several awareness campaigns to refute this attitude. It is necessary to make people aware the importance of voting and educate the people on the importance of registering themselves.

If we question about 100 people around 10 will says that they are not concerned about elections,” he said.

When asked if Sri Lanka should adopt a system that makes voting mandatory, the chairman positively responded stating that at least as an initial step registration should be made mandatory.

If we can we should make registration mandatory that is sufficient. People should understand that services such as water, electricity, roads and garbage collections and importantly cemeteries and crematoriums are controlled by the local authorities. So people, in a way own these local authorities. But we fail to comprehend as to why they are not interested in voting.

In Colombo metropolitan area including Dehiwala, Mt Lavania and Moratuwa, Colombo and Kotte only 60,000 new names have been registered while 76,000 names are to be deleted due to failure to register.

And other areas identified as Colombo suburbs, such as Maharagama, additions have been recorded at 9,500 whereas 14,000 names are to be deleted. Commenting on the statement made by the Chairman of the Elections Commission on the drastic drop of voter registration, State Minister of Finance, Eran Wickremaratne said that he personally believes that this is a reaction to what is currently taking place in the country, where voter confidence has depleted.

“I got concerned straight away that maybe the government/UNP voter has kept away. But this is the lowest we have had. This is a reaction to what’s happening at present. So the quick fix to this is, to first make people aware as they still have time to register themselves if they have not done so up to now,” he said.

The State Minister said he had advised his staff to look into the reasons and to obtain people’s input on the issue.

“If this is their reason to abstain from registering, they are doing the wrong thing. They seem to forget that this reaction does not harm us, the politician but them.

They have to vote. They don’t realize that they are damaging themselves. Having the vote and not going to the polling booth is harmful to them,” Minister Wickremaratne went on to say.