By JAMILA HUSAIN
Elections Chief, Mahinda Deshapriya and election observers have urged voters to vote early in today’s parliamentary election and to use their votes without fear stating the polling booths were COVID-19 free as all necessary health guidelines had been put in place.
Deshapriya told Daily Mirror that he was expecting at least an 85 percent voter turnout in today’s election and urged people to somehow cast their votes as all preventive measures had been taken.”I urge all voters to vote today. Please do not be afraid and let your vote go. All precautions have been taken and all booths are free from COVID-19. It is mandatory that voters must wear their masks and if they prefer they can carry their own ballpoint pens, in blue or black colour.
I am expecting a high voter turnout today,” Deshapriya said.”If people can go to supermarkets, hotels, public places, etc, then they can definitely vote today. Please vote early,” Deshapriya said. Election observers such as the People’s Action for Free and Fair Election who have deployed 5,000 election observers across the country today including 250 mobile teams have also urged people to cast their votes early and refrain from being worried. Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi said that polling booths were extremely safe as the Election Commission and Health Ministry had taken all the necessary health guidelines to ensure the voter’s safety.
“Compared to homes, polling booths are the second safest place today. We are expecting people to come utilize their votes today,” Hettiarachchi said. An estimated 16.2 million people will be able to vote in today’s general election with voting starting at 7 am and ending at 5 pm. Over 12,000 polling booths have been set up across the country.
The final hour of voting between 4 pm to 5 pm will be open for those who have completed their 14-day quarantine in centres and are undergoing a further 14-day quarantine at home, but they too will be allowed to vote following the approval of the MOH and in the presence of the health officials. An estimated 1,800 people who are undergoing this home quarantine will be eligible to vote in the final hour today.