The voter turn out at the forthcoming Local Government Elections would be lower than usual due to the recent floods and the people’s mistrust in the election process, Election monitors said yesterday.
People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Executive Director, Rohana Hettiarachchi said that the voter turn out during local government elections which was normally lower than those of the national and provincial elections, generally varied between 55%-65%. He said however that the numbers would fall further this year. “In the last local government elections in 2006 the voter turnout was 54%. In the coming elections we expect these numbers will fall well below 50%,” Hettiarachchi said.
He said that one of the major reasons for a possible reduction in the voter turnout was the floods which he said would have a vast affect on the elections.
“A large number of voters from the flood affected areas will not turn up to vote at the elections next month. There is a possibility that the numbers might increase on the Election Day, but it is less likely,” he said. He added that the decision to hold the local government elections on two dates has also caused the voters to lose their rust in the election process as the first Election Day results will influence the election results for the next day. Furthermore, he added that national level politicians carrying out their campaigning in these areas which would also affect the election turnout.
“Irrespective of which party comes into power, the people have no trust in the system as they do not see any significant changes taking place,” he said.
He said however that those applying for temporary identity cards to vote at the elections should apply right away as the application process takes two weeks.
The Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) Coordinator, M.H.M Ajmeer said that the voter turnout would be low unless the political parties competing at the upcoming elections take necessary measures to encourage them to vote. He said that the message to vote should be sent out to people including those in flood affected areas if the voter turn-out was to be increased.
He said in many areas in the Northern, Eastern and North Central provinces, campaigning had not started partly due to the floods.
“Unless parties accelerate their campaigning, chances are that the voter turn-out will be lower,” Ajmeer said.