Feb 10, Colombo: Sri Lankans began voting in the much awaited local government elections on Saturday at over 13,000 polling centers across the island amid heavy security.
Voting began at 7.00 a.m. at 13,374 centers for over 15 million Sri Lankans to cast their ballots at one of the most crucial elections in recent history. The voting to elect representatives for 340 Local Government Bodies will conclude at 4.00 p.m. today.
According to the Election Commission, 15,760,867 people are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect 8,356 members out of the 57,219 candidates vying for 340 local government bodies.
Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said according to the new electoral system, a voter should only place one cross sign (X) in the box opposite the party or independent group sign that the desired candidate represents on the ballot paper.
Polling will take place for 24 Municipal Councils, 41 Urban Councils and 278 Pradeshiya Sabhas. Members will be elected for 4903 divisions.
This will be the first time that local government elections will be held under the new mixed electoral voting system eliminating the preferential voting. Under the mixed electoral voting system 60 percent of the candidates are being elected under the first-past-the-post system while 40 percent will be elected through the proportional representation system.
Under the amendment to the Local Authorities Elections Act, the number of local government bodies increased from 336 to 341 while the number of councilors will increase from 4,486 to 8,356. Election for Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha will not be held due to a court order.
The government also enacted law make it binding on all political parties and independent groups to field at least 25 percent female candidates in local elections.
The services of 65,758 Police Officers, 41,178 Special Task Force (STF) officers and 7,278 other officers will be utilized to provide security and to maintain law and order for the Election, today, according to the Government Information Department.