Development Councils Elections ACT

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

PART I

Preliminary

2. Application of Act.

3. Electoral areas.

4. Polling division and polling districts.

5. Registers of electors.

6. Register of electors to be conclusive evidence of right to vote.

7. Returning officers.

8. Recognised political parties for the purpose of election.

9. Disqualification of membership.

PART II

Nominations

10. Nomination period.

11. Power of Commissioner to direct which one of the rival sections of political party is that party.

12. Who may contest election.

13. Nomination papers.

14. Deposits.

15. Disposal of deposits.

16. Consent to nomination an offence under circumstances.

17. Rejection of nomination papers.

18. Uncontested elections.

19. Procedure where no nomination papers are received.

20. Contested Elections.

21. Persons entitled to be present at nomination.

PART III

The Poll

22. Notice of poll.

23. Death of candidate after nomination.

24. Voting by post.

25. Official poll card.

26. Presiding officers.

27. Facilities to be provided at polling stations.

28. Notices to be exhibited at polling stations.

29. Ballot boxes.

30. Ballot papers.

31. Hours of poll.

32. Appointment of polling agents.

33. General conduct of the poll.

34. Sealing of ballot boxes and commencement of poll.

35. Issue of ballot papers.

36. Inspection of voter and marking with the appropriate mark.

37. Manner of voting.

38. Assistance to voters to enable them to vote.

39. Voting by proxy forbidden.

40. Plural voting to be an illegal practice.

41. Power to require vote to make declarations.

42. Spoilt ballot paper.

43. Tendered votes.

44. Closure of poll.

45. Procedure on closure of poll.

46. Presiding officer may act through officers appointed to assist him.

PART IV

Counting of Votes and Declaration of Result

47. Counting officers.

48. Notice of count.

49. Appointment of counting agents.

50. The count.

51. Ballot papers to be rejected.

52. Special provisions relating to powers, duties and functions under sections 50 and 51.

53. Closure of the count.

54. Counting of postal ballot papers.

55. Notice of declaration of result.

56. Appointment of agents to attend at the declaration of the result.

57. Persona entitled to be present at the declaration of result.

58. Declaration of the result.

59. Special provisions relating to powers, duties or functions under section 58.

60. Publication of result in the Gazette.

61. Disposal of ballot papers.

PART V

Filling of Vacancies

62. Vacation of membership.

63. Vacation of office on ceasing to be member of recognised political party or independent group.

64. Penalty for acting as member after office is vacated.

65. Filling of vacancies.

PART VI

Offences

66. Offences relating to nomination papers, ballot papers, official poll cards.

67. Certain persons not qualified to vote.

68. Certain acts prohibited on polling day.

69. Restriction on processions.

70. Restriction on public meetings.

71. General provisions relating to offences under sections 66, 67, 68, 69 and 70.

72. Printing of election publications by persons other than candidates.

73. Restriction on number of offices.

74. Provisions relating to display of handbills, posters.

75. Candidate not to visit on residence for canvassing.

76. Certain persons not to canvass or act as agents.

77. Maintenance of secrecy at elections.

Corrupt Practices

78. Personation.

79. Treating.

80. Undue influence.

81. Bribery.

82. Punishment and incapacities for corrupt practice.

83. Special provisions relating to punishment and incapacity for a corrupt practice by an unsuccessful candidate at an election.

Illegal Practices

84. Certain expenditure to be illegal practice.

85. False reports in newspapers.

86. Certain employment to be illegal.

87. Printing of election publications.

88. Conviction for illegal practices.

89. Special provisions relating to punishment and incapacity for an illegal practice by an unsuccessful candidate at an election.

90. Additional penalty for certain offences.

PART VII

General

91. Failure to comply with provisions of Act.

92. Death, withdrawal or disqualification of candidate not to invalidate nomination paper of party or group.

93. Use of schools as polling stations.

94. Secretary of a recognised political party or group leader may act as his own agent or assist his agent.

95. Non-attendance of the agents of recognised political party or independent group.

96. Prohibition of disclosure of vote.

97. Inaccurate description of places and persons.

98. Publication of notices.

99. Duty of employers to grant leave to enable employees to vote.

100. Requisitioning of premises for use as polling stations.

101. Compensation for requisitioning premises.

102. Powers of Commissioner.

103. Removal as difficulties.

104. Interpretation.

SCHEDULES

20 of 1981,

48 of 1983,

6 of 1986.

AN ACT to make provision for the procedure of the election of members of Development Councils, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

[Date of Commencement: 19th March, 1981]

1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the Development Councils Elections Act.

PART I

Preliminary

2. Application of Act.

The provisions of this Act shall apply to every Development Council constituted or to be constituted under the provisions of the Development Councils Act, No. 35 of 1980.

3. Electoral areas.

Every Development Council area shall be an electoral area for the purposes of this Act.

4. Polling division and polling districts.

(1) Each polling district for the time being in force under the Registration of Electors Act, No. 44 of 1980, shall be deemed to be a polling district for the purposes of this Act.

(2) Each polling division for the time being in force under the Registration of Electors Act, No. 44 of 1980, shall be deemed to be a polling division for the purposes of this Act.

5. Registers of electors.

(1) The register to be used for the purposes of an election under this Act shall be the register in operation on the date of publication of the notice of nomination under section 10, notwithstanding that a new register may have come into operation after the publication of such notice.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) a "register in operation” means a register of electors in operation in terms of the Registration of Electors Act, No. 44 of 1980, and includes a register or registers or a part of a register or any combination of them corresponding to the area of a Development Council.

6. Register of electors to be conclusive evidence of right to vote.

A register of electors referred to in section 5 shall be conclusive evidence for the purpose of determining whether a person is or is not entitled to vote at an election under this Act and the right of voting of any person whose name is for the time being contained in such register shall not be prejudiced by any appeal pending under any written law for the time being in force in respect of the entry of such person's name in the register, and any vote given by any such person during the pendency of such appeal shall be as good as though no such appeal were pending and shall not be affected by the subsequent decision of the appeal:

Provided that if any person, who by reason of his conviction of a corrupt practice or an illegal practice or by reason of any of the provisions of the Constitution or by reason of his disqualification under section 67, is incapable of voting at an election under this Act, votes at such election, he shall, on conviction before a Magistrate be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees or to imprisonment of either description for a period not exceeding six months:

Provided further that nothing in this section shall affect the liability of any person to any penalty for an infringement of the provisions relating to voting in person under section 24 or to plural voting under section 40.

7. Returning officers.

(1) The Commissioner shall, from time to time, by notice in the Gazette appoint by name or by office a person to be the returning officer of each Development Council area, and may appoint by name or by office one or more persons to assist the returning officer in the performance of his duties. A person so appointed to assist any returning officer shall have all the powers and may perform all the duties of the officer whom he is appointed to assist, and any reference in this Act to a returning officer shall, unless the context otherwise requires, be deemed to include a reference to an assistant returning officer. An appointment made by the Commissioner under this subsection may be revoked by him at any time.

(2) If any returning officer is by reason of illness or other cause prevented or disabled from performing any of his duties under this Act and there is not time for another person to be appointed by the Commissioner, the returning officer may appoint by name or by office, a deputy to act for him. Every such appointment shall as soon as possible be reported to the Commissioner and may be revoked by him, but without prejudice to the validity of anything already done by such deputy.

8. Recognised political parties for the purpose of election.

(1) Every political party which is entitled to be treated as a recognised political party under the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981, or of elections under the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance, shall, so long as that political party continues to be treated as a recognised political party under that Act or Ordinance, be deemed to be a recognised political party for the purpose of elections under this Act.

[S 8(1) am by s 2 of Act 6 of 1986.]

(2) Where a political party is deemed by virtue of the operation of the provisions of subsection (1) to be a recognised political party for the purpose of elections under this Act, the approved symbol allotted to that party under the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981, or the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance or any other law, shall be deemed to be the approved symbol of that party until such party ceases to be so entitled under subsection (1).

9. Disqualification of membership.

No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of a Development Council or to sit or vote as an elected member of such Council—

(a) if such person is subject to any of the disqualifications specified in paragraphs (a), (c), (d) (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (ix) and (x), (e), (f) and (g) of Article 91(1) of the Constitution;

[S 9(a) am by s 8 of Act 48 of 1983.]

(b) if such person is subject to any of the disqualifications specified in the Local Authorities (Imposition of Civic Disabilities) (No. 1) Law, No. 38 of 1978, or the Local Authorities (Imposition of Civic Disabilities) (No. 2) Law, No. 39, of 1978, or who, under any other law for the time being in force, is disqualified from voting at an election of members to any Municipal Council or Urban Council;

(bb) if such person is a public officer in any Government Department holding—

(i) any office created prior to November 18, 1970, the initial of the salary scale of which was, on November 18, 1970, not less than Rs. 6,720 per annum or such other amount per annum as would, under any subsequent revision of salary scales, correspond to such initial; or

(ii) any office created after November 18, 1970, the initial of the salary scale of which is, on the date of the creation of that office, not less than the initial of the salary scale applicable, on that date, to an office referred to in sub-paragraph (i) or such other amount per annum as would, under any subsequent revision of salary scales, correspond to the first mentioned initial; or

[S 9(bb) ins by s 8 of Act 48 of 1983.]

(bbb) if such person is an officer in any public corporation holding—

(i) any office created prior to November 18, 1970, the initial of the salary scale of which was, on November 18, 1970, not less than Rs. 7,200 per annum or such other amount per annum as would, under any subsequent revision of salary scales, correspond to such initial, or

(ii) any office created after November 18, 1970, the initial of the salary scale of which is, on the date of creation of that office, not less than the initial of the salary scale applicable on that date to an office referred to in sub-paragraph (i) or such other amount per annum as would, under any subsequent revision of salary scales, correspond to the first mentioned initial;

[S 9(bbb) ins by s 8 of Act 48 of 1983.]

(c) if he is a Member of Parliament;

(d) if such person is a member of any other Development Council or stands nominated as a candidate for election for more than one Development Council;

(e) if he is a member of any Municipal Council or Urban Council;

(f) if such person is an officer or servant of a Development Council in actual employment by and to receipt of a salary from such Council, or is a person whose employment by such Council was terminated within a period of one year before the date of the election of members to such Council;

(g) if such person directly or indirectly, himself or by any other person whatsoever In trust for him or for his use or benefit or on his account, holds or enjoys in the whole or in part, any contract or agreement or commission made or entered into with or accepted from any person for or on account of such Council:

Provided that nothing herein contained shall extend to any pension or gratuity granted by such Council in respect of past service, nor to any contract, agreement or commission entered into or accepted in its corporate capacity by any incorporated trading company in which such person may be a member or a shareholder;

(h) if such person is a member of the Local Government Service established by the Local Government Service Law, No. 16 of 1974:

Provided that nothing herein contained shall extend to a person who holds a post the initial of the salary scale of which is—

(i) in the case of a post created prior to November 18, 1970, less than Rs. 6,720 per annum, on that date, or such other amount per annum as would, under any subsequent revision of salary scales, correspond to any such initial; or

(ii) in the case of a post created after November 18, 1970, not less than the initial of any salary scales applicable, on the date of creation of that post, to a post referred to in paragraph (i) or such other amount per annum as would, under any subsequent revision of salary scales, correspond to the first mentioned initial,

if he seeks election to a Development Council under Which he is not employed at the time of the election in question, or under which he was not employed during a period of one year immediately preceding such election ; or

[S 9(h) proviso subs by s 8 of Act 48 of 1983.]

(i) if such person stands nominated as a candidate for election by more than one recognised political party or independent group in respect of any Development Council.

PART II

Nominations

10. Nomination period.

(1) Whenever an election of the members of a Development Council is due to be held in any year, the returning officer of that Development Council area shall publish a notice of his intention to hold such election. The notice shall specify the period (hereinafter referred to as the "nomination period”) during which nomination papers shall be received by the returning officer during normal office hours at his office, and the number of candidates required under section 13(1) to be set out on the nomination paper.

(2) The nomination period shall commence on the fourteenth day after the date of publication of the notice referred to in subsection (1) and expire at twelve noon on the twenty-first day after the date of publication of such notice.

11. Power of Commissioner to direct which one of the rival sections of political party is that party.

(1) Where the Commissioner has reasonable cause to believe that difficulties may arise at an election which is due to be held in any Development Council area by reason of the fact that there are rival sections of a recognised political party all of whom claim to be that party, the Commissioner may, in order to remove such difficulties, issue in his absolute discretion a direction to the returning officer for that Development Council area that in the case of such election such recognised political party is either any one such section or none of such sections. It shall be the duty of such returning officer or any other officer, at such election, to act in accordance with that direction.

(2) No suit or other proceeding shall lie against—

(a) the Commissioner by reason of his having issued a direction under subsection (1); or

(b) a returning officer or any other officer for any act or thing done or omitted to be done in accordance with that direction.

(3) A direction issued to a returning officer under sub section (1) shall be final and conclusive, and shall not be called in question in any court.

(4) The preceding provisions of this section and any direction issued thereunder shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other provisions of this Act.

12. Who may contest election.

Any person who is not disqualified to be elected as a member of a Development Council in terms of section 9 of the Act may be nominated as a candidate for election.

13. Nomination papers.

(1) Any recognised political party or any group of persons contesting as independent candidates (hereinafter referred to as an "independent group”) may for the purpose of an election of members of a Development Council submit one nomination paper setting out the names, in order of priority, of such number of candidates as is equivalent to the number of members to be elected for that Development Council, increased by one-third. Where one-third of the number of members to be elected for any Development Council is an integer and fraction or fraction, the integer immediately higher to that integer and fraction or fraction shall be deemed to be the one-third for the purposes of this subsection. Such nomination paper shall be substantially in Form A set out in the First Schedule to this Act.

(2) The written consent of each candidate to be nominated by a recognised political party or an independent group shall be endorsed on the nomination paper.

(3) Each nomination paper shall be signed by the secretary of a recognised political party or in the case of an independent group, by the candidate whose name appears first in the nomination paper (hereinafter referred to as the "group leader”) and shall be attested by a Justice of the Peace or by a notary public.

(4) Such nomination paper shall be delivered to the returning officer at his office during normal office hours within the nomination period by the secretary of a recognised political party or by the candidate whose name appears first in such nomination paper (hereinafter referred to as the "authorised agent”) in the case of a recognised political party, or by the group leader in the case of an independent group.

(5) Where, due to any reason whatsoever, the secretary of a recognised political party or the authorised agent or the group leader is unable to deliver a nomination paper, the candidate whose name appears second on such nomination paper shall deliver such nomination paper to the returning officer as required by subsection (4).

(6) The returning officer shall as soon as practicable make a copy of each nomination paper received by him and display such copy on his notice-board.

(7) The returning officer shall, on application made at any date after the publication of the notice of nomination and before the expiry of the nomination period, supply free of charge a nomination paper to any recognised political party or any independent group; but nothing in this Act shall be deemed to preclude the use of any form of nomination paper not supplied by the returning officer, so long as such Form does not differ substantially from Form A set out in the First Schedule to this Act.

(8) —

(a) Where it appears to the secretary of a recognised political party or an authorised agent or a group leader that there is any omission or clerical error in a nomination paper submitted by such party or independent group he may make an application to the returning officer before the expiry of the nomination period to correct such omission or error on such paper.

(b) Where the returning officer is satisfied that such omission or error is due to inadvertence, the returning officer may allow such secretary or authorised agent or group leader to correct such omission or error in his presence.

(c) For the purposes of this subsection the omission of the name of a candidate, or the failure of a candidate to endorse his consent on a nomination paper, or the failure of the secretary of a recognised political party or a group leader to sign a nomination paper, or the failure of a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public to attest such signature shall be deemed not to be an omission or a clerical error due to inadvertence.

14. Deposits.

(1) A group leader or any person authorised by such group leader, shall, between the date of publication of the notice under section 10 and the submission of the nomination paper of that group, deposit in legal tender with the returning officer a sum calculated at two thousand rupees in respect of each candidate nominated by such group.

(2) No deposit made by a group leader or a person authorised by such group leader under subsection (1) shall be accepted by the returning officer unless it is made within the time prescribed in that subsection.

(3) Where a deposit under this section is accepted by the returning officer, such officer shall forthwith issue to the person by whom the deposit was made a receipt in writing signed by such officer acknowledging his acceptance of such deposit, and the receipt shall state—

(a) the name of the group leader by whom the deposit was made or of the authorised person by whom and on whose behalf the deposit was made;

(b) the number of candidates;

(c) the amount of the deposit; and

(d) the time and the date of the deposit.

15. Disposal of deposits.

(1) Every deposit made with a returning officer under section 14 shall forthwith be credited by such officer to a deposit account and shall be disposed of according to the provisions of subsections (2), (3) and (4).

(2) Where a nomination paper of an independent group is rejected under the provisions of section 17, the deposit shall be returned to the person who made the deposit.

(3) Where the number of votes polled by an independent group is less than one-eighth of the total number of votes polled at the election in such Development Council area, the deposit made in respect of the candidates of such group shall be declared forfeit and shall be transferred by the returning officer from the deposit account to the Consolidated Fund, and in every other case the deposit shall be returned to the person who made the deposit, as soon as may be after the result of the election is declared.

(4) For the purposes of this section, the number of votes polled at an election in any Development Council area shall be deemed to be the number of votes actually counted and shall not include any votes rejected as void.

16. Consent to nomination an offence under circumstances.

Where any person who is not qualified to be elected as a member of a Development Council—

(a) by reason of his conviction for a corrupt or illegal practice or by reason of the report of an Election Judge under the Ceylon (Parliamentary Elections) Order in Council, 1946, or under the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981, or by reason of the report of the Supreme Court under the law relating to the election of the President; or

(b) by reason of the imposition of civic disability on him in terms of Article 81(1) of the Constitution; or

(c) by reason of his being subject to any of the disqualifications specified in the Local Authorities (Imposition of Civic Disabilities) (No. 1) Law, No. 38 of 1978, or the Local Authorities (Imposition of Civic Disabilities) (No. 2) Law, No. 39 of 1978, signifies his consent to be nominated as a candidate at an election of members of any Development Council, he shall be guilty of an offence, and shall, on conviction before a Magistrate be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees or to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

17. Rejection of nomination papers.

(1) The returning officer shall, immediately after the expiry of the nomination period, examine the nomination papers received by him and reject any nomination paper—

(a) that has not been delivered in accordance with the provisions of subsection (4) or subsection (5) of section 13; or

(b) that does not contain the total number of candidates required to be nominated in terms of section 13; or

(c) in respect of which the deposit required under section 14 has not been made; or

(d) where the consent of one or more candidates nominated has not been endorsed on the nomination paper; or

(e) where the signature of the secretary in the case of a recognised political party, or of the group leader in the case of an independent group does not appear on the nomination paper or where such signature has not been attested as required by subsection (3) of section 13.

(2) Where any nomination paper has been rejected by the returning officer under subsection (1) the returning officer shall inform the secretary of the recognised political party or the group leader, as the case may be, who had submitted such nomination paper the fact of such rejection. The decision of the returning officer to reject such nomination paper shall be final and conclusive.

18. Uncontested elections.

(1) Where in the case of any Development Council area, the candidates of only one recognised political party or one independent group stand duly nominated for election, then—

(a) such number of candidates in the order in which their names appear in such nomination paper, as is equivalent to the number of members to be elected for that Development Council shall be declared elected by the returning officer; and

(b) the candidate whose name appears first in the nomination paper referred to in this subsection shall be declared elected the Chairman of the Development Council by the returning officer.

(2) The returning officer shall forthwith make a return which shall be substantially in Form B set out in the First Schedule to this Act, to the Commissioner who shall cause the names of the members and the name of the Chairman so elected to be published in the Gazette.

19. Procedure where no nomination papers are received.

Where in the case of any Development Council area the returning officer finds at the expiry of the nomination period—

(a) that no nomination paper has been duly received on behalf of any recognised political party or any independent group; or

(b) that all the nomination papers received by him have been rejected, the returning officer shall not later than seven days after the expiry of the nomination period publish a notice prescribing a second nomination period. Such period shall commence on the seventh day after the date of the publication of the notice and expire at twelve noon on the tenth day after the date of publication of such notice. The provisions of this Act shall apply in relation to the second nomination period, subject however that the duration of the nomination period referred to in section 10 shall not be applicable to the second nomination period.

20. Contested Elections.

(1) If, at the expiry of the nomination period and after the rejection of any nomination paper, candidates of more than one recognised political party or independent group stand duly nominated for election, the returning officer shall forthwith allot—

(a) to each recognised political party for the purpose of that election, the approved symbol of that party; and

(b) in respect of each independent group, an approved symbol and where there is more than one independent group an approved symbol and a distinguishing number determined—

(i) in the first instance by agreement among the group leaders; or

(ii) in the absence of such agreement by lots cast or drawn in such manner as the returning officer may, in his absolute discretion, determine, and such symbol shall be printed on the ballot paper opposite;

(i) the name of such party; and

(ii) in the case of an independent group, the words "Independent Group” and the distinguishing number, if any, allotted to that group.

(2) The approved symbol of a recognised political party shall not, whether or not such party is contesting an election, be allotted under paragraph (b) of substitution (1) to any independent group.

(3) After the allocation of symbols under subsection (1) the returning officer shall forthwith adjourn such election to enable a poll to be taken in accordance with the provisions hereinafter set out.

21. Persons entitled to be present at nomination.

No person other than the returning officer, the secretary of a recognised political party, the authorised agent, the group leader, the candidate whose name appears second on a nomination paper and one other person, if any, selected by such secretary or authorised agent or group leader shall, except with the consent of and for the purpose of assisting the returning officer, be entitled to be present at the proceedings under sections 13, 17, 18 and 20.

PART III

The Poll

22. Notice of poll.

(1) The returning officer shall, as soon as may be after the conclusion of the proceedings under section 20, publish a notice in the Gazette specifying—

(a) the Development Council in which the election is contested;

(b) the names of the candidates in order of priority as set out in the nomination paper of each recognised political party and independent group for election as members of that Development Council and the approved symbol allotted to such party or group and in the case of an independent group the words "Independent Group” and the distinguishing number, if any;

(c) the date of poll, such date being any day other than a Full Moon Poya day or any public holiday specified in the First Schedule to the Holidays Act, No. 29 of 1971, and being a date not less than three weeks or more than eight weeks from the date of publication of the notice;

(d) the situation of the polling station or stations for each of the polling districts in the Development Council area, and the particular polling station, if any, reserved for female voters.

(2) If, after the publication of the notice referred to in subsection (1), the day specified in such notice is declared to be a public holiday, such declaration shall in no way affect the validity of anything done on such day of the purposes of the election.

(3) Unless the returning officer considers it necessary or expedient in the special circumstances of any case to provide a separate polling station for the female voters of any polling district, there shall be for each polling district one polling station and no more.

(4) The polling station or stations for each polling district shall be situated within such polling district save where the returning officer, having regard to the special circumstances in any polling district, may decide upon a polling station outside such polling district. The location of the polling station shall be such as to cause the minimum inconvenience to the electors of the polling district.

(5) Where due to any emergency it is necessary that the situation of any polling station should be different from that specified in a notice published under subsection (1) the returning officer may cause the situation of that station to be altered in such manner as he may, in his absolute discretion, determine.

(6) Where due to any emergency or unforeseen circumstances the poll for the election in any Development Council area cannot be taken on the day specified in a notice published under subsection (1), the returning officer may, by notice published in the Gazette, appoint another day for the taking of such poll, and such other day shall not be earlier than the fourteenth day after the publication of the notice in the Gazette.

23. Death of candidate after nomination.

Whenever the death occurs of a candidate for election for any Development Council area between the adjournment of the election for the purposes of the poll and the commencement of the poll, the returning officer shall, upon being satisfied of the fact of such death, expunge the name of that candidate from the nomination paper and notwithstanding such death, the nomination paper with the omission of the name of the deceased candidate shall be valid in respect of the other candidates in the order in which their names appear in that nomination paper and the poll shall be taken as specified in the notice under section 22.

24. Voting by post.

(1) A person who is entitled under this section to be treated as a postal voter for the purpose of an election in any Development Council area may vote by post, and shall not vote in person, at such election. Any person who votes in person at any election in contravention of the preceding provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees or to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding one year or to both such fine and imprisonment.

(2) An application to be treated as a postal voter in any Development Council area may be made—

(a) by a member of the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, or an officer or servant in the Department of Police, the Sri Lanka Government Railway, the Department of Posts and the Department of Telecommunications or the Sri Lanka Central Transport Board or any Regional Transport Board, on the ground that he is unable or likely to be unable to vote in person at the polling station allotted to him by reason of the particular circumstances of his employment as such member, officer or servant, and

(b) by any other officer or servant in the public service or of the Central Bank of Ceylon, or the Local Government Service on the ground of the particular circumstances of his employment on the date of the poll for a purpose connected with the election or of his being likely to be employed for that purpose, and

(c) by a candidate at an election on the ground that he is unable or likely to be unable to vote in person at the polling station allotted to him by reason of his candidature in some other Development Council area.

(3) An application to be treated as a postal voter shall be made to the returning officer so as to reach him within ten days after the date of publication of the notice of nomination under section 10. Such application shall be substantially in the Form prescribed for the purpose by the regulations contained in the Second Schedule to this.

(4) No application to be treated as a postal voter shall be allowed by a returning officer unless he is satisfied that the application is in accordance with the preceding provisions of this section.

(5) The returning officer may, for the purpose of the disposal of applications to be treated as postal voters, by notice require any person to give such officer any such information as may be necessary for that purpose.

(6) The decision of a returning officer on an application to be treated as a postal voter shall be communicated to writing to the applicant.

(7) The decision of the returning officer to allow or disallow an application to be treated as a postal voter shall be final.

(8) Where an application to be treated as a postal voter is allowed by a returning officer, the applicant shall be a person entitled to be treated as a postal voter for the purpose of an election.

(9) The returning officer shall, as soon as practicable, send by post to each person who is entitled to be treated as a postal voter, to the address furnished by such person:

(a) a ballot paper;

(b) a form of declaration of identity;

(c) an envelope which shall be smaller than the envelope referred to in paragraph (d) of this subsection, and which shall be marked "ballot paper envelope” and also with the number printed on the postal ballot paper issued to such person, and in which the postal ballot paper shall be enclosed when it is returned duly marked; and

(d) an envelope for the return of the aforementioned documents.

(10) The form of the ballot paper and the form of the declaration of identity which are to be used by persons entitled to be treated as postal voters, and the procedure to be followed at the proceedings on their issue shall be according to the regulations contained in the Second Schedule to this Act.

(11) A ballot paper issued to a person entitled to be treated as a postal voter is in the Act referred to as an "a postal ballot paper”.

(12) The returning officer of any Development Council area where there is an election shall, as soon as practicable, prepare a list (in this Act referred to as the "postal voters' list”) specifying the name, address and number on the register of electors of every person entitled to be treated as a postal voter. Such list shall be prepared in such manner as may be prescribed in that behalf by the regulations contained in the Second Schedule to this Act.

25. Official poll card.

(1) The returning officer shall send to each elector whose name appears in the register a poll card (in this Act referred to as an "official poll card”) in such form as may be determined by the Commissioner, and specifying—

(a) the name of the Development Council;

(b) the name, qualifying address, and registration number of the elector as stated in the register;

(c) the polling division;

(d) the polling district;

(e) the polling station allotted to the elector; and

(f) the date and hours of the poll:

Provided that no such card shall be sent to an elector who is enticed to be treated as a postal voter.

(2) An official poll card under subsection (1) shall be sent to an elector by ordinary post as to reach him at least seven days before the date of the poll. Where a post office fails to deliver such card to the person to whom it is addressed it shall be retained until the date of the poll in such post office to be delivered to the addressee if he calls for it.

(3) Every person who—

(a) without authority supplies any official poll card to any other person, or

(b) sells or offers to sell any official poll card to any other person or purchases or offers to purchase any official poll card from any other person, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees or to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

(4) Every person, other than a public officer acting in the course of his duty as such officer, who has in his possession the official poll card of any other person, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees or to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

26. Presiding officers.

(1) Subject to the general or special directions of the Commissioner, each returning officer shall appoint, and may revoke the appointment of, one or more persons, hereinafter called presiding officers, to preside at each polling station in his Development Council area. If more than one presiding officer is appointed for any polling station, the returning officer may appoint one of the presiding officers to be the senior presiding officer who shall exercise general supervision over the other presiding officers, and over all arrangements for the conduct of the poll in that station.

(2) If any presiding officer is by reason of illness or other cause, prevented from acting at an election, and there is not time for another person to be appointed by the returning officer, the presiding officer may appoint a deputy to act for him. Every such appointment shall as soon as possible be reported to the returning officer and may be revoked by the returning officer, but without prejudice to the validity of anything already done by such deputy.

(3) The returning officer may, if he thinks fit, preside at any polling station, and the provisions of this Act relating to a presiding officer shall apply to such returning officer.

27. Facilities to be provided at polling stations.

(1) For the purposes of an election in any Development Council area, the returning officer shall:

(a) appoint such officers and servants as may be necessary for taking the poll;

(b) furnish each polling station in that Development Council area with such number of compartments as may be necessary to accommodate a reasonable number of voters at any one time and to ensure that the voters are screened from observation when they mark their ballot papers;

(c) furnish each presiding officer with a copy of that part of the register of electors containing the names of electors in such register assigned to his polling station and a list of such of the names of electors in that copy as appear in the postal voters' list. A distinguishing mark shall be placed against the name of every elector who is entitled to be treated as a postal voter in the part of that register supplied to each such presiding officer;

(d) furnish each presiding officer with such number of ballot boxes and ballot papers as, in the opinion of the returning officer, may be necessary for the number of voters assigned to that polling station;

(e) provide each polling station with materials to enable voters to mark the ballot papers, with instruments for perforating or stamping thereon the official mark;

(f) do such other acts and things as may be necessary for effectually conducting the election in the manner provided by this Act.

(2) An election shall not be questioned by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of subsection (1) or any informality relative to polling stations.

28. Notices to be exhibited at polling stations.

(1) During the taking of the poll, the presiding officer at every polling station shall cause to be exhibited—

(a) outside the polling station and in every compartment thereof, a notice substantially in the form set out in the Third Schedule, to this Act, giving directions for the guidance of voters; and

(b) outside the polling station a notice specifying the name of each recognised political party contesting the election or in the case of an independent group contesting the election the words "Independent Group” for each such group and the distinguishing number, if any, allotted to it together with the names of the candidates in order of priority as set out in the nomination paper of each such recognised political party or independent group and the approved symbol allotted to each such party or group.

(2) Every notice under this section shall be in Sinhala, Tamil and English.

29. Ballot boxes.

Every ballot box shall be so constructed that the ballot papers can be put therein, but cannot be withdrawn therefrom, without the box being unlocked.

30. Ballot papers.

(1) The votes at every election for any Development Council area shall be given by ballot. The ballot of each voter shall consist of a ballot paper in the form and containing the particulars hereinafter prescribed.

(2) Every ballot paper shall be substantially in Form C set out in the First Schedule to this Act, and—

(a) shall contain the names of the recognised political parties contesting the election, in Sinhala, Tamil and English, arranged alphabetically in Sinhala in the order of the names of such parties and with the symbol allotted to each such party, set out against the name of each such party, and immediately thereafter, if there are any independent groups contesting the election, the words, "Independent Group” repeated for each group and the distinguishing number, if any, in the serial order and the symbol allotted to each such group;

(b) shall be capable of being folded;

(c) shall have a number printed on the reverse; and

(d) shall have attached a counterfoil with the same number printed on the face.

31. Hours of poll.

Unless the Commissioner, by notification in the Gazette, appoints any other hour, the poll in any Development Council area shall open at seven o'clock in the forenoon of the day specified under section 22 and shall close at four o'clock in the afternoon of that day.

32. Appointment of polling agents.

(1) The secretary of each recognised political party or its authorised agent or any group leader may appoint a reasonable number of polling agents for each polling station having regard to the need to revoke the appointment of any polling agent for that polling station during the poll. Notice in writing of every such appointment stating the names and addresses of the persons appointed shall be given by such secretary or authorised agent or group leader to the presiding officer at that station before the opening of the poll or during the poll.

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