Saturday, April 25, 2009

I voted and what I found inexplicable

My Voting card in Sinhala and Tamil only

I am registered currently for voting purposes in my farm in Godagama, which is in the Homagama electorate of the Colombo District. I had a list of 41 parties including independent groups with potentially 46 persons vying for preferences for each party.The ballot paper was about 2 ft long to accommodate all these parties, firstly the party sign on the left hand side box, and then the name of the party, in Sinhala, then in Tamil followed by English. In a small section in the bottom, a box of approximately 8cm X 6cm were the 46 boxes with numbers to cross for three candidates for the party one voted for in the top.

The irony was that most people know what party symbol they would vote for, but which of three numbers to cross is much more difficult. Peoples attention span for remembering numbers is not good, and though one may remember one number of a particular candidate, recalling three is a wholly different matter.

I was particularly shocked when my father who had voted in the Colombo West electorate and came up to the farm in the morning told me, that as far as the numbers were concerned he had no clue who he voted for, just crossing three consecutive numbers in boxes, as he did not know names or numbers of candidates.

If that is the comment of a supposedly experienced voter of numerous elections, then I can only conclude that this system is considerably flawed, as all the electioneering was to get people to remember names and numbers, and not party platforms, and even that was poorly executed.

The scale of the waste of money thus expended on an election, which for all intents and purposes is merely a referendum, is unpardonable in light of the current events. Effectively to me it is nothing more than a jobs list for the second tier of boys, who get a duty free vehicle, for all 104 provincial councilors elected. Not one word of utterance was made on how the Rs50B allocation for the Western Provincial Council will be spent. No surprise therefore that voter turnout was under 60%

I found one troubling point which I would like one of my readers to explain. My ballot paper was torn from the perforation and given to me, and my voter number was entered on the counterfoil.Now the counterfoil and the ballot paper have a unique number much like in a cheque book where the counterfoil and cheque have the same number. It is therefore possible, and if computerized, very easy to match who voted for which candidates and party, nullifying the whole point of a secret ballot.

I would like some clarification on this, as to why the lady handing me the ballot paper wrote my voting card number on the counterfoil in pencil!


realskullzero said...

ohh..good question..

George said...

The whole system is out of control. I long for the old parliamentary system, when we had MPs representing individual electorates. We knew who our MP was, and he/she was directly responsible to us.

I have another grouse. Sri Lanka doesn't allow expatriate Sri Lankans to vote. So, the last time I voted was in 1977, because I have been out of the country since then. (Yes, amazingly enough, I am still a SL citizen.) Taxation without representation!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with George.

There are over one million Sri Lankans living out of the oucntry and sending our money back home boosting the SL economy.

The very least that the givernment can do is to let us vote at the foreign embassies.

On the other hand, I cannot believe that Rosy, Thilanga, Duminda and Uadaya got the tp votes.

What on earth is wrong with our lot !!!!!

Bimal said...

I guess the secret ballot is not so 'secret' after all.

My views are similar to that of George when it come to the current method. We should have the MPs representing individual electorates.

Didn't know that expat citizens didn't get a vote.

Anonymous said...

ranjit, happy birthday!!

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