An election monitoring body said today that it was ready to cooperate with the Election Commission in evolving guidelines to conduct the parliamentary elections amidst the coronavirus threat.
Rohana Hettiarachchi, the Executive Director of People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), told Daily Mirror that it would be impractical to wait for the total eradication of COVID-19.
He said the elections should be conducted at one point once the coronavirus crisis was brought to a manageable level.
“It is not practical to wait for zero cases,” he said.
Mr Hettiarachchi said his office, as a leading poll watch, had identified each step involved in the entire election process from the distribution of poll cards to the counting of ballot papers.
“These are tasks that involve the participation of numerous officials. We have to work out measures to prevent the transmission of the diseases from any possible infected person to another during the process,” he said.
A political party can send five agents to counting centres.
According to Mr Hettiarachchi, a large gathering is found at counting centres as a result, and a mechanism has to be worked out to reduce this number while ensuring transparency of the counting process.
He suggested the use of cameras to observe the counting process from outside. Also, he said public rallies could be prohibited for all the parties. “This applies to all the parties. Then, there is no injustice to anyone,” he said.(Kelum Bandara)