Lanka Parliamentary Election: Polling and counting of votes on separate days due to virus outbreak

Colombo, Jun 21 (PTI) The results for Sri Lanka's August 5 parliamentary election will be delayed as counting of votes will not take place on the same day as polling due to revised rules in view of the coronavirus outbreak, Election Commission chief Mahinda Deshapriya said on Sunday.

The counting will be done on the next day which are in accordance to the COVID-19 prevention health guidelines, Deshapriya said.

The election chief said many such decisions departing from the normal process could be taken in view of the ongoing pandemic.

The number of polling stations and poll officers on duty will be higher than usual and details would be finalised in a meeting later this month, Deshapriya said, adding that the total cost of the election could be ascertained after all details are worked out.

Traditionally, the counting opens on the same night as the poll day in the island nation. This would be the first election since the 1970s when the counting has been deferred to the next day.

The parliamentary polls were initially to be held on April 25, but had to be postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which prompted the authorities to announce a nationwide lockdown from March 20.

Later, the election commission shifted the date to June 20. It was again deemed not suitable in view of the raging pandemic. Finally, August 5 has been selected for the poll process.

Over 16.2 million voters are eligible to vote and over 7,450 candidates are in the race for 225 seats.

The elections commission has held several mock polls to check the feasibility of the exercise on a large scale.

The elections commission has asked the parties to adhere to health guidelines during campaigning. PTI IND IND