They fall into the following categories and the numbers are approximate to a level of accuracy + or minus 20% due to inaccurate data available.
Approximately 500,000 Sri Lanka Passport Holders who live overseas DO NOT have their details in a Sri Lankan electoral register for whatever reason.
1,000,000 Sri Lanka Passport Holders who mainly work overseas, primarily in the Middle East, are registered to vote in their household in Sri Lanka as they have been entered by the Primary Householder on the register, with their ID number. (they will not vote as they reside abroad, and we currently don’t have a system to allow them a franchise in Sri Lanka.)
500,000 citizens who live in Sri Lanka are NOT registered anywhere, as they have not been included in their original household, by the householder, and they have been unable to register in their present home, some in rented accommodation, because it is impossible to get registered for the first time, without confirmation from the GN (grama niladari, of where they were previously registered,) that they are NO longer registered in that address!)
The balance 1,500,000 live away from their registered address, of which 500,000 have a postal vote as they have eligibility due to being Govt. servants on duty, and forces personnel. Of the remaining 1,000,000: 400,000 private sector workers go home at weekends to be with their families, and are most likely to go to their homes on Thursday 8th January to vote, taking a few more days off, subject to their employers permission as many in this category are domestic workers, drivers, security personnel in private homes and companies.
This leaves 600,000 people WHO cannot for economic reasons go home to vote!!!!
They include domestic help. Security staff who are on duty on election day, unable to go home to vote, garment and industrial workers who are boarded who despite in some cases getting a paid holiday to vote, are unable to spend the Rs1000+ to travel, some of whom who may take one day to go home and another to return, and therefore choose even to take it as a rest day, and catch up on much needed sleep.
Don’t forget Sunday the 4th of January is a Poya Holiday as well as Sunday, Monday is a Bank Holiday, due to Poya falling on Sunday, so if Thursday and Friday are also days when staff are not working in the private sector, firms will be reluctant to be generous to their staff for time off for voting!!! This is a very practical issue.
The special exercise of sampling their intentions, that was undertaken regarding this which I was informed of this morning, is that 75% of this 600,000 would vote for Maithripala Sirisena, meaning a net 300,000 vote loss to him as a result. The MS camp DO NOT have a plan to transport them to their home areas to vote, so you the reader come to your own conclusion about this population of eligible voters.
I hope this analysis gives the reader an indication of the effective lack of franchise, and points to the need to extend postal voting for a whole new category of private sector worker in Sri Lanka. I have previously in a blog entry discussed the issue of a vote for those who reside overseas, and will not include that issue here.
I welcome your comments, on how to tackle this problem, as I have already spoken to some contacts in the BOI zones of Biyagama and Katunayake who employ considerable number of workers from distant parts who are boarded near their work who WOULD NOT go home to vote as they cannot afford the expense! Even though their employers have agreed to give a paid day off. I have made this point to the employers that their staff vote will make a difference, but they are unwilling to subsidize the transport cost for that exercise.
Another startling fact that comes out of this is that the 1.6M eligible voters who WILL NOT make the trip home amounts to 12% of the registered voters. Their opinions can make a difference to the result in a Presidential Election.
It is therefore the duty of the legislators of Sri Lanka to enable as many citizens of Sri Lanka to exercise the Universal Franchise, and let us press our legislators that is their duty to do so at a future date.
Just like the technology has now eliminated the duplicate registering of voters as they are registered with a unique identity number, we can also enable one person one vote, no matter where they reside, and at least for all adults living in Sri Lanka no matter where they live. The marking of one’s finger when voting is sufficient to prevent a person voting more than once, and so let all vote at a Presidential, no matter where they are, just go to any polling station and show your ID and vote!!!
How about it? Opinions and comments are most welcome on this subject.