This is a guide to voting in Sri Lanka, in the 2015 Presidential election (source file). YAMU doesn’t care how you vote, but we do encourage you to vote.
මෙහි තොරතුරු අඩංගු චිත්ර සිංහල බසින් නැරඹිය හැක. නොඑසේනම් මෙහින් බාගත කරගත හැක
There is a Tamil translation here (which we haven’t checked, please let us know if there are issues).
The Basics Of Voting In Sri Lanka
When do I vote?
This election is on Thursday, January 8th. Polling booths are open from 7 AM to 4 PM. Your job, by law, has to give you at least 4 hours off to vote (ie, a half day). If you’re registered somewhere far away (like Jaffna) you can request for a days leave and you should get it.
UPDATE: The elections commissioner has issued the following table with the recommended amount of leave to grant. You can read the whole release here .
Where do I vote?
It should tell you on the polling card. Usually the nearest school. You can’t just vote anywhere, you have an assigned polling station which will be near your registered address (not necessarily near where you live).
Who can I contact with any issues?
You can call the Elections Office on 11 2872247. Good luck getting through though. You can also talk to your Grama Sevaka.
Getting Into The Polling Booth
Who can vote?
Broadly, if you’re over 18, a Sri Lankan citizen and have been out of jail for more than 7 years, you can vote.
To vote in this election you must be on the 2014 electoral list. The forms would have been collected and filled in June/July and the last time you could have made changes was in November. The rolls are closed for this election.
If you recently got a polling card in the mail, you can vote. Some people are still getting them. If not then you’ll need to check with your Grama Sevaka, or online . If you’re not on the list you cannot vote. This sucks, but that’s how it is.
What documents do I need?
You must bring valid Sri Lankan ID to the polling station. Valid ID includes
- National Identity Card
- Valid Passport
- Valid Driving License
- Identity Cards Issued to Clergy, Pensioners & Elders
- Temporary Identity Cards issued by the Department of Elections
Note that it is too late to get a temporary ID card, unless you live in flood affected areas.
You must have ID, but you are not required to have your polling card. The elections commission says the polling card will ‘make it convenient’ to vote, but it’s not legally required. We highly recommend bringing it.
How To Vote In Sri Lanka
OK, so you’ve somehow got into the polling booth. You’ll need to stand in line, probably, and then you’ll be sent to a little standing desk where you can fill in your ballot. The ballot is just a list of names and symbols.
How do I vote?
You can vote in two ways for a Presidential election. You can select one candidate with an X or the number 1. You can also vote for your top three candidates, in the order that you prefer. For that put 1, 2 and 3 next to their names.
Don’t put your name or identifying marks on the ballot card, it will get disqualified. If you’re going to spoil your ballot it’s honestly a waste of everyone’s time. Someone really tired has to decipher your political statement so just don’t.
There has been some confusion regarding which pen/pencil to use. The Elections Commissioner has said to look for an orange or brown pen (which no one has seen). Our recommendation is just to vote with whatever they give you. Do not bring your own. It is unlikely that they would invalidate so many votes because of the color of the ink. When you do vote try to keep the X or number inside of the box.
What are all these names?
There are 19 names on the ballot this year. Some are actual candidates, some are put there by the party to get more agents in the counting center and some are actually trying to confuse you. There are, for example, other Sirisenas and Rajapaksas on the ballot this year.
Be sure to check the candidates name, the symbol and the party name to make sure you’re getting the right person. We’ve shown only the two viable candidates details and symbols here.
Then you should walk out with a purple mark on your finger.
If you’re wondering what happens to your vote, the boxes get sent to a Counting Center. There, around 8PM, they begin counting. This is usually in the presence of monitors from all the parties.
Last election (2010) results started coming out around midnight, but we don’t know. Probably by the early morning on the 9th we should know who the new President is.