Friday, January 2, 2015

3,500,000 Adult Sri Lankans live more than 50km from the house their vote is registered or call home.

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.       


Anonymous said...

Let this be a wakeup call to policy makers that the MOST PRODUCTIVE workers of Sri Lanka are basically unable to vote and make a difference!

A hard working garment worker does not want to spend Rs2000 to go to her home village to vote. She would rather spend the day, resting her weary hands, so that she can be more productive when she returns to the factory, where she gets an incentive for the piece work productivity.

A dedicated nanny in Colombo 7, will stay with her charges so her industrialist boss, can think of more productive ways to increase his wealth, not worrying personally, about the welfare of his children or spending the day changing their nappies.

A hardworking hotel worker, who in the height of the tourist season, will not leave his workplace to go to vote, and instead opts to get OT and takes care of the guests at the hotel he works and shares the service charge with his co-workers.

A security guard in a Colombo District factory, will not go to his home in Polonnaruwa to vote, because he too gets overtime, and is willing to safeguard the considerable valuable productive assets of his employer from loss, be it theft, fire or an electrical fault, thereby saving productive assets for his mother country.

A fisherman who is now on the west coast to fish, as his home is in the east coast, and they move from coast to coast depending on the monsoon of each area, who does not want to miss a lucrative catch.

A driver for a private bus operator, will stay on out of loyalty to his boss, and out of the knowledge that he would forego about Rs5000 in income if he has to trek back home to vote.

This is a cross section of the 600,000 workers you refer to, who MUST be given the postal vote also. They know the value of money, and work for it, unlike the unproductive Govt. servants and forces personnel who do have the postal vote just because they man a wholly unnecessary military camp, whiling away their time, hassling the young girls in the area when they pass by with cat calls and crude comments, which these girls would not dare to say a word against.

If Sri Lanka fails them, then who they elect is a worthless fool, voted in by lazy ungrateful lotus eaters!


Anonymous said...

Politics is a rich mans game

Anonymous said...

This is a crying shame on SL. Opposition should have made an issue out of this in the election.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

I just had a call from a highly agitated student at the Sri Jayawardenaura Campus who said ALL their end of term exams are on the 12th and that none of the 5,000 or so students would be able to go home to vote, due to the time it would take to go home and return, and also be prepared for the exams and that to his knowledge if exams are NOT postponed that would affect their fundamental rights.

He wanted us to intervene and get the exams postponed by appealing to the Elections Commissioner. I said when there are hundreds and thousands in your shoes he is hardly likely to make a special case out to you.

Of course appealing to a Presidential appointee VC Amerasinghe may not help!