Returned cards reflect missing residents

[TamilNet, Friday, 23 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Of the 92,858 polling cards supplied by the Commissioner of Elections to the post offices in the Jaffna Municipal Council (MC) and the Nallur Pradheshiya Sabha (PS) for distribution among the voters of the two local council areas, only 23,399 cards have been distributed, the chief post-master of the Jaffna District Mr. Abraham Kodeeswaran told the TamilNet correspondent. The balance has been returned.

Sources in Jaffna said that this is so because the number of voters actually resident in the two council areas is so low as against the number of polling cards sent by the elections commission is due to the fact that the government has not revised the voters registers in Jaffna after 1986 when it was estimated that there were about 572,000 voters in Jaffna.

The Sri Lankan Government (SLG) has in the past inflated the number of persons resident in the peninsula as part of its propaganda to prove that normalcy has returned to Jaffna after the Sri Lanka Army moved into the region after Operation Rivirasa.

The more insidious aspect of this exercise is that with so many polling cards unutilised, any party interested in stuffing the ballot boxes could use these cards for that purpose if the relevant authorities connive with it.

The Commission of Elections, basing itself on the statistics of 1986, ordered more than five hundred thousand polling cards be sent to the Peninsula for the election.

Meanwhile the SLA's Jaffna Commander Major General Lional Balagalle told a Sri Lankan national daily, The Island, yesterday, that he expected a turnout of about 50% of the registered voters at the polls.

Political analysts said that if only around 23,399 voters are physically present in Jaffna and Nallur of the estimated 92,858, and if only 50% of that number vote, the actual turnout on election day could be abysmally low.

They said that the discrepancy between the actual number of voters and the estimated amount in other areas too is as large as the above instance.


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