Voter registrations have dropped by nearly 1/3rd in 2023 I Sri Lanka Latest News

Although usually about 300,000 new voters were added to the voter lists, there had been an addition of only 207,000 in 2023, Commissioner General of Elections Saman Sri Ratnayake said.

“This is because young people’s interest in being a part of the electoral process is declining,” he opined.

With the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 2021, those who turn 18 can register for the voter list online, he said. He added that under Act No. 22 of 2021, the voter registers were updated once every four months.

“We prepare the first list of the year by 01 January. After that, from 01 February to 30 May, about 65,000 people, who turned 18, registered with us. From 01 June to 30 September, about 70,000 new voters registered. Over 70,000 joined between 01 October and so far in January. About 207,000 new voters registered during the three revisions we did in 2023. If we have an election, these 207,000 can vote, too,” he said.

The Sri Lankan Constitution guarantees that all citizens above 18 can vote; however, until now, those who turned 18 had to wait at least another year to vote because voter lists were only prepared once a year.

“We have gone online to encourage young people to vote. Please make use of that,” he said. The voter list that is valid for elections at this moment is the one that was certified in October 2023.

“The 2023 voter list is the one that is valid for elections if they are held now. With the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 2021, we have chosen 01 February as the day we start counting voters, i.e., verifying where they live. We are now starting the process of preparing the 2024 voter list,” he said.

The initial steps of the voter registration process is done by Grama Niladaris who visits people’s homes to collect data. Ratnayake said one grama niladari now has to visit a large number of families.

“In some areas, the number of families has grown exponentially,” he said.

Source: The Island

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