Chairman, Elections Commission (EC) Mahinda Deshapriya strictly recommends introducing an ‘electronic voting system’ (EVS) sooner rather than later to save the time and labour of officials, minimise the waste of public money and improve efficiency in elections.
In a range of recommendations in the aftermath of the November 16 presidential poll, Mr. Deshapriya says the EC has been in a dialogue with political parties and parliamentarians since the year 2000 to introduce electronic voting machines at elections but has still failed to go ahead with the system used in many other countries.
‘If we are to hold a free and fair election, the introduction of EVS must not delay any further,” Mr. Deshapriya stressed.
Mr. Deshapriya strongly recommends the necessity to take a closer look at the biased and partisan approach by certain electronic and print media institutions towards particular political parties and candidates during election campaigns.
It is mandatory that all media institutions strictly adhere to the guidelines issued by the EC during major elections as the media plays an extremely vital role to shape the minds of the voter during elections. If any media institution carries on its partisan and biased telecasts, broadcasts or printing violating the EC guidelines, laws have to be brought to expose the particular media establishment and prohibit it from printing, telecasting or broadcasting election results, Mr. Deshapriya stressed.
The state-owned electronic and print media institutions must perform their duties as state media institutions and not as media institutions of the government in power, he added.
Legal provisions should be introduced to make election duty an essential service to prevent public officers from playing truant by giving various excuses after being chosen for election duty by the EC.
It is extremely vital to introduce legislation as early as possible to limit election-related expenses by political parties and candidates to create a level playing field for all candidates and political parties.
The postal voting system must be expanded to give an opportunity to fishermen on multi-day boats and employees who are on duty at airports, ports, express-ways, tourist hotels, private security establishments and in the health sector as they are not in a position to leave their workplaces to cast their votes by post.
Laws should be brought to prohibit pseudo or dummy candidates from contesting as they come forward to contest with different agendas rather than winning the election.
Mr. Deshapriya emphasised the need to appoint a parliamentary select committee to go through these recommendations and introduce necessary legislations accordingly. (Sandun A Jayasekera)