Election officials yesterday strictly enforced regulations regarding identification of voters at the North Western and Central Provincial polls, resulting in a relatively low turnout in some areas though the overall figure was about 60 percent.
Reports from the provinces said a large number of voters were turned away at polling stations after they failed to produce valid identification as specified by the Elections Commissioner while more were turned away due to discrepancies between the name in the polling cards and the identification papers.
Election monitors and officials estimated that between 75,000 and 100,000 people were not able to vote due to the non-availability of proper identification papers or due to rejection of their identification papers.
Compared to the previous two provincial elections in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, less enthusiasm was seen in yesterday’s polls with some of the booths having a poor turnout in the early hours of voting. However, voting picked up in some areas later in the day.
The Nuwara Eliya district recorded a higher turnout than other districts with an estimated 62 percent turnout, according to District Secretary D.G. Kumarasiri while in the Kandy district, the turnout was around 60 percent. In the Kurunegala district the turnout was around 50 percent.
Police Elections Chief said that no serious incidents had been reported during the poll.
However, incidents of voters being driven away, polling agents being chased away and cases of intimidation were reported from some areas.
The North Western province UNP chief Ministerial candidate Shamal Senarath has lodged a complaint with the Commissioner of Elections about UPFA supporters illegally putting up a sticker on the ballot boxes where they believe that more UNP members had voted. He said the idea was to identify the boxes and keep them out of the count.
In at least four polling booths in the Kurunegala district the sticker had been detected and removed.