Presidential Elections ACT

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

PART I

PRELIMINARY

2. Commissioner to give notice of date of nomination and date of poll.

3. Electoral districts, polling divisions and polling districts.

4. Polling stations.

5. Registers of electors.

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

7. Returning officers.

PART II

NOMINATIONS

8. Deposits by candidates.

9. Disposal of deposits.

10. Power of Commissioner to determine which one of rival sections of a recognised political party is that party.

11. Who may be nominated to contest election.

12. Nomination papers.

13. Delivery of nomination paper to the Commissioner.

14. Objections to nomination papers.

15. Rejection of nomination paper.

16. Persons entitled to be present at nomination.

17. Uncontested election.

18. Procedure where no nomination papers are received.

19. Commissioner may delegate powers.

20. Allotting of approved symbols.

PART III

THE POLL

21. Notice of poll.

22. Procedure where candidate dies.

23. Voting by post.

24. Official poll card.

25. Presiding officers.

26. Facilities to be provided at polling stations.

27. Notices to be exhibited at polling stations.

28. Ballot boxes.

29. Ballot papers.

30. Hours of poll.

31. Appointment of the election agent.

32. Appointment of authorised and other 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 for bidden.

40. Prohibition of plural voting.

41. Power to require voter to make declaration.

42. Spoilt ballot papers.

43. Tendered votes.

44. Closure of the poll.

45. Procedure on closure of the poll.

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

46A. Disturbance at polling stations.

PART IV

THE COUNT

47. Counting officers.

48. Notice of the count.

49. Appointment of counting agents.

50. The count.

51. Ballot papers to be rejected and the preparation of statement of the number of votes cast in favour of each candidate.

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. Returning officer to prepare statement.

56. Commissioner to ascertain whether any candidate obtains absolute majority.

57. Procedure where no candidate receives absolute majority.

58. Returning officer to direct counting officers to comply with Commissioner's directions.

59. Counting officer to report result to returning officer.

60. Returning officer to add preferences and prepare statement.

61. Commissioner to declare result.

62. Commissioner to hold fresh elections in certain circumstances.

63. Equality of votes.

64. Commissioner to notify candidates time and place of declaration of result.

65. Disposal of ballot papers etc.

PART V

OFFENCES

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

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

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 election offices.

74. Provisions relating to display of handbills posters, etc.

75. Maintenance of secrecy at elections.

CORRUPT PRACTICES

76. Personation.

77. Treating.

78. Undue influence.

79. Bribery.

80. Punishment and incapacities for corrupt practice.

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

ILLEGAL PRACTICES

82. Certain expenditure to be illegal practice.

83. False reports in newspapers.

84. Certain employment to be illegal.

85. Printing of election publication by candidates and authorised agents.

86. Punishment on conviction for illegal practice.

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

EXCUSE FOR CORRUPT OR ILLEGAL PRACTICE

88. Report exonerating Candidates in certain cases of corrupt and illegal practice by agent.

89. Power of Supreme Court to except innocent act from being illegal practice.

PART VI

ELECTION PETITIONS

90. Avoidance by conviction of candidate.

91. Avoidance of election on election petition.

92. Powers of the Supreme Court to hear election petitions relating to the election of the President.

93. Who may present petition.

94. Relief which may be claimed.

95. Parties to a petition.

96. Contents of the petition.

97. Special provisions relating to the procedure before the Supreme Court.

98. Determination of Supreme Court.

99. Report of Supreme Court as to corrupt or illegal practice.

100. Certificate and report to be forwarded to the Speaker.

101. Effect of certificate and report.

102. Time for presentation.

103. Prohibition of disclosure of vote.

104. Votes to struck off at a scrutiny.

105. Procedure and practice on election petitions.

106. Rejection of ballot paper by counting officer to be final

PART VII

GENERAL

107. Powers of Commissioner of Elections.

108. Inaccurate description of places and persons.

109. Publication of notices.

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

111. Use of schools as polling stations.

112. Requisitioning premises for use as polling stations.

113. Compensation for requisitioning premises.

114. Candidate's right to send matter relating to election post free.

115. Failure to Comply with provisions of Act.

116. Non-attendance of agents.

117. Broadcasts by candidates.

118. Power to make orders to meet difficulties arising under this Act.

119. Power of Commissioner to make regulations and rules.

119A. Police to assist Commissioner.

119B. Procedure for casting vote where there is a reasonable fear of an inability to cast vote at a given polling station.

120. Interpretation.

SCHEDULES

15 of 1981,

16 of 1988,

35 of 1988,

14 of 2004,

28 of 2011.

AN ACT to provide for the election of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka by the people and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

[Date of Commencement: 12th March, 1981]

1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the Presidential Elections Act.

PART I

PRELIMINARY

2. Commissioner to give notice of date of nomination and date of poll.

(1) Where the Commissioner of Elections (hereinafter referred to as the "Commissioner”), is required by the Constitution to conduct the election of the President, he shall by Order published in the Gazette

(a) fix the date of nomination of candidates being a date not less than sixteen days and not more than twenty-one days from the date of publication of such Order, and the place of nomination; and

[S 2(1)(a) am by s 2 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(b) fix the date on which the poll shall be taken, being a date not less than four weeks and not more than six weeks from the date of nomination.

[S 2(1)(b) am by s 2 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(2) The date fixed under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of subsection (1) shall be 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 if, after the publication of the Order under subsection (1), any day specified therein is declared to be a public holiday, such declaration shall in no way affect the validity of anything done on such day for the purposes of that subsection.

3. Electoral districts, polling divisions and polling districts.

(1) Each electoral district proclaimed under Article 97 of the Constitution shall be deemed to be an electoral district for the purposes of this Act.

(2) Each polling division and 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 division and a polling district for the purposes of this Act.

4. Polling stations.

(1) Within two weeks from the date of nomination, the Commissioner shall cause to be published in the Gazette a notice specifying the situation of the polling station or stations for each of the polling districts in each electoral district and the particular polling station, if any, reserved for female voters.

(2) Unless the Commissioner 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.

(3) The polling station or stations for each polling district shall be situated within such polling district save where the Commissioner 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.

(4) 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 Commissioner may cause the situation of that polling station to be altered in such manner as he may, in his absolute discretion, determine.

5. Registers of electors.

The register of electors to be used in any electoral district for the purposes of this Act shall be the register of electors in operation for that electoral district on the date of the publication of the Order under section 2 notwithstanding to be altered in such manner as he may, in his after the publication of such Order.

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 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 five hundred 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 23 or to plural voting under section 40.

7. Returning officers.

(1) The Commissioner, as occasion may require, shall by notice in the Gazette, appoint by name or by office a person to be the returning officer of each electoral district, 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 the 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.

(2) An appointment made by the Commissioner under subsection (1) may be revoked by him at any time.

(3) 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, any person 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 person.

PART II

NOMINATIONS

8. Deposits by candidates.

(1) A candidate or some person on his behalf shall deposit, or cause to be deposited, with the Commissioner or with any person authorised by the Commissioner in that behalf between the date of the publication of the Order under section 2 and before twelve noon on the day before the date of nomination

(a) where such candidate is a candidate nominated by a recognised political party, a sum of fifty thousand rupees in legal tender,

(b) where such candidate is a candidate nominated by any other political party or by an elector, a sum of seventy-five thousand rupees in legal tender.

(2) No deposit made

(a) by a candidate or any other person on his behalf shall be accepted unless it is made within the time prescribed by subsection (1); or

(b) by a candidate referred in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) or any other person on his behalf shall be accepted unless it is accompanied by a certificate under the hand of the Secretary-General of Parliament to the effect that such candidate is, or has been, an elected member of the legislature.

[S 8(2) subs by s 3 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(3) Where the deposit under this section is accepted by the Commissioner or any person authorised by him under subsection (1), the Commissioner or such person shall forthwith issue to the person by whom the deposit was made a receipt in writing signed by him acknowledging his acceptance of such deposit, and the receipt shall state—

(a) where the deposit is made by a candidate, the name of the candidate, or where the deposit is made by some other person, the name of that person and the name of the candidate on whose behalf the deposit was made;

(b) the amount of the deposit; and

(c) the time and date of the deposit.

9. Disposal of deposits.

(1) Every deposit made under section 8 shall forthwith be credited to a deposit account and shall be disposed of according to the provisions of the subsections (2), (3) and (4).

(2) Where the nomination paper of a candidate is rejected under the provisions of section 14 or section 15 the deposit shall be returned to the person who made the deposit.

(3) Where the number of votes polled by any candidate does not exceed one-eighth of the total number of votes polled at the election, the deposit made in respect of such candidate shall be declared forfeit and shall be transferred by the Commissioner 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 shall be deemed to be the number of votes actually counted and shall not include any votes rejected as void or any second preference or third preferences.

10. Power of Commissioner to determine which one of rival sections of a recognised political party is that party.

(1) Where the Commissioner has reasonable cause to believe that difficulties may arise at an election under this Act, 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, determine in his absolute discretion that such recognised political party is either any one such section or none of such sections.

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

(a) the Commissioner by reason of his having made a determination 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 determination.

(3) A determination under subsection (1) shall be final and shall not be called in question in any court.

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

11. Who may be nominated to contest election.

Any citizen who is qualified to be elected to the office of President may be nominated as a candidate for such office as hereinafter provided.

12. Nomination papers.

(1) No candidate shall be nominated by means of more than three separate nomination papers.

(2) Every nomination paper shall be substantially in Form A set out in the First Schedule to this Act.

(3) —

(a) Where any candidate is nominated by means of one nomination paper, such nomination paper shall be signed—

(i) where such candidate is nominated by a recognised political party, by the secretary of such party;

(ii) where such candidate is nominated by any other political party, by the secretary of such party;

(iii) where such candidate is nominated by an elector, by an elector whose name has been entered in any register of electors for the time being in operation.

(b) Where any candidate is nominated by means of more than one nomination paper, each such nomination paper shall be signed by the same person who has signed the nomination paper in accordance with paragraph (a) and where there is no compliance with the provisions of this paragraph, such candidate shall be deemed not to have been nominated.

(4) The signature of the person signing any nomination paper shall be attested by a Justice of the Peace or by a notary public.

(5) The written consent of each candidate to be nominated shall be endorsed on the nomination paper.

(6) No person shall sign the nomination paper or papers in respect of more than one candidate, and if he does so, his signature shall be operative only in the case of the nomination paper or papers which were first delivered.

13. Delivery of nomination paper to the Commissioner.

(1) Each nomination paper shall be delivered to the Commissioner at the place of nomination on the date of nomination between the hours of 9 am and 11 am by the candidate or the person who has signed his nomination paper.

[S 13(1) am by s 4 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(2) The Commissioner shall as soon as practicable make a copy of each nomination paper received by him and display such copy on his notice-board outside the place of nomination.

(3) The Commissioner shall on application made before the expiry of the time fixed for nominations under subsection (1) supply free of charge a nomination paper to any person; but nothing in this Act shall be deemed to preclude the use of any form of nomination paper not supplied by the Commissioner, so long as such form does not differ substantially from form A set out in the First Schedule to this Act.

(4) —

(a) Where it appears that there is any omission or clerical error in a nomination paper submitted under this section, then, the candidate or the person who has signed such nomination paper may make an application to the Commissioner before the expiry of the time fixed for nomination to correct such omission or error on such paper.

(b) Where the Commissioner is satisfied that such omission or error is due to inadvertence, the Commissioner may allow such candidate or person 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 the secretary of any other political party or an elector 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. Objections to nomination papers.

(1) Objection may be made to the nomination papers of a candidate by any rival candidate or the person who has signed the nomination paper of such rival candidate on the ground—

(a) that it is apparent from the contents of the nomination paper that the candidate is not qualified to be elected as President;

(b) that, 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 the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1981, or by reason of the report of the Supreme Court under this Act, the candidate is not qualified to be elected as President, and, for the purposes of this paragraph a copy of the judgment or order of the Court by which he was so convicted, certified by the officer of the Court having custody of such judgment or order, or an order supported, in any case where there was an appeal against such conviction, by a copy of the order of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court in such appeal affirming such judgment or order, or a copy of or an extract from the Gazette in which such report is published as required by the provisions of the aforesaid laws, shall be conclusive proof of such disqualification;

(c) that civic disability has been imposed on the candidate by Parliament in terms of Article 81(1) of the Constitution, and for the purposes of this paragraph a copy of the resolution referred to in that Article certified under the hand of the Secretary-General of Parliament shall be conclusive proof of such imposition.

(2) No objection to a nomination paper shall be allowed unless it is made to the Commissioner between 9 am and 11.30 am on the day of nomination.

[S 14(2) am by s 5 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(3) Every objection shall be in writing signed by the objector and shall specify the ground of objection.

(4) The Commissioner shall, with the least possible delay, decide on the validity of every objection taken on the ground referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (1), and inform the candidate concerned of his decision, and of the grounds therefor if such decision allows the objection.

(5) The decision of the Commissioner if disallowing the objection taken on the ground referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) shall be final; but if allowing such objection shall be subject to reversal on an election petition.

(6) The Commissioner shall refer any objection taken on any ground referred to in paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of subsection (1) for the decision of the Supreme Court.

(7) Every reference under subsection (6) on any objection taken to the nomination of the candidate concerned—

(a) shall be made by petition in writing which shall be free of stamp duty;

(b) shall be made within a period of three days after the day of nomination;

(c) shall specify the names and addresses of the objector and the candidate concerned;

(d) shall be accompanied by a copy or copies of the relevant document or documents on which the objection is based; and

(e) shall be heard and decided by five Judges of the Supreme Court after such summary inquiry as the Supreme Court may deem requisite within a period of seven days after the date of the receipt of such reference. If there is no decision by the Supreme Court on the reference within the period referred to in paragraph (e) of this subsection, the reference shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to have abated, but may be taken by way of an election petition.

(8) Where the Commissioner is required by subsection (6) to refer any objection taken under paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of subsection (1) to the nomination of the candidate concerned for the decision of the Supreme Court, such candidate shall for the purposes of this Act, be a candidate who stands nominated on the day of nomination and shall cease to be a candidate so nominated if, but only if, a decision if any, of that Court allows the objection. The Commissioner shall so act under this Act as to give force and effect to the preceding provisions of this subsection.

(9) The provisions of subsections (6) and (8) shall not apply in the event of the Commissioner allowing any objection against a candidate concerned on the ground referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (1).

15. Rejection of nomination paper.

(1) The Commissioner shall as soon as practicable after a nomination paper has been delivered to him, examine the nomination paper and reject any nomination paper—

(a) that has not been delivered in accordance with the provisions of subsection (1) of section 13; or

(b) in respect of which the deposit required under section 8 has not been made; or

(c) that does not comply with the provisions of sub- sections (3b), (4), (5) and (6) of section 12; or

(d) where the signature of the secretary of a recognised political party, or the secretary of any other political party, or of an elector, as the case may be, does not appear on the nomination paper; or

(e) in respect of which an objection has been made under paragraph (a) of section 14(1) and the Commissioner has allowed such objection.

(2) Where any nomination paper has been rejected by the Commissioner under subsection (1), he shall inform the candidate or the person who had delivered such nomination paper the fact of such rejection. The decision of the Commissioner to reject such nomination paper on any of the grounds set out in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (1) shall be final.

16. Persons entitled to be present at nomination.

No person, other than the Commissioner, the candidates and the persons who have signed their nomination papers and one other person, if any, selected by each candidate shall, except with the consent of and for the purpose of assisting the Commissioner, be entitled to be present at the proceedings under sections 13, 14 and 15.

17. Uncontested election.

(1) Where after the expiry of the time fixed for the delivery of a nomination paper and the time during which objection may be made to a nomination paper and the rejection of a nomination paper or papers only one candidate stands nominated for election, then such candidate shall be declared elected to the office of President.

(2) The Commissioner shall forthwith cause the name of the candidate so declared elected to be published in the Gazette.

18. Procedure where no nomination papers are received.

Where at the conclusion of the proceedings under sections 13, 14 and 15, the Commissioner finds that no candidate stands duly nominated, he shall publish a notice prescribing a second nomination day, being a day not earlier than seven days, and not later than fourteen days from the date of publication of such notice. The provisions of this Act shall apply in relation to the second nomination day.

19. Commissioner may delegate powers.

If the Commissioner is by reason of sickness or any other cause prevented or disabled from performing any of his duties under this Part, he may appoint by name or by office any person to act for him.

20. Allotting of approved symbols.

(1) If more than one candidate stands duly nominated for election, the Commissioner shall forthwith allot—

(a) to the candidate nominated by a recognised political party, the approved symbol allotted to that party under the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1981; and

(b) in respect of any other candidate, an approved symbol for each such candidate determined—

(i) in the first instance by agreement among such candidates; or

(ii) in the absence of such agreement by lot cast or drawn in such manner as the Commissioner may, in his absolute discretion, determine, and such symbol shall be printed on the ballot paper opposite the name of each such candidate. Where a candidate is unable to be present at the proceedings under paragraph (b), the person who signed the nomination paper of such candidate may act on his behalf.

(2) The approved symbol of any recognised political party shall not, whether or not such party is contesting on election, be allotted under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) to any other candidate.

(3) Where a candidate is nominated, he may, forthwith after try approved symbol is allotted to him under subsection (1), in writing under his hand indicate which of his names mentioned in the nomination paper he desires should be omitted and which should be specified by initial only; and for the purposes of the election, the names which the candidate desires to omit may be omitted and initials may be used in place of those names which he desires should be specified by initials.

(4) After the allotting of symbols under subsection (1) and the proceedings under subsection (3) the Commissioner shall forthwith adjourn such election to enable a poll to be taken in accordance with the provisions here in after set, out.

PART III

THE POLL

21. Notice of poll.

(1) The Commissioner shall not later than fourteen days from the date of nomination, publish a notice in the Gazette and in at least one newspaper in Sinhala, Tamil and English specifying—

(a) that the election is contested;

(b) the date on which the poll will be taken and the hours of the poll; and

(c) the names of the candidates in the order in which such names will be printed on the ballot papers, the symbol allotted to each candidate, and—

(i) in the case of a candidate nominated by a recognised political party, or any other political party, the name of such political party; and

(ii) in the case of a candidate nominated by an elector, the name of such elector.

[S 21 renumbered as s 21(1) by s 10 of Act 35 of 1988.]

(2) Where due to any emergency or unforeseen circumstances the poll for the election in any electoral district cannot be taken on the day specified in the notice relating to the election published under subsection (1), the Commissioner may, by Order published in the Gazette, appoint another date for the taking of such poll and such date shall not be later than one month before the expiration of the term of office of the President in office.

[S 21(2) ins by s 10 of Act 35 of 1988.]

(3) Where a new date for taking a poll in an electoral district has been appointed by an Order made under subsection (2), the counting of votes polled in the other electoral districts shall not be commenced until after the close of the polls in the electoral district in respect of which such Order has been made.

[S 21(3) ins by s 10 of Act 35 of 1988.]

22. Procedure where candidate dies.

(1) If, after the adjournment of an election for a poll to be taken, a candidate nominated by the recognised political party or any other political party or an elector dies before the poll has, commenced, the Commissioner shall on being satisfied of the fact of such death, direct the Secretary of any such party or such elector to nominate another candidate within three days of such direction. Such nomination shall be substantially in Form A set out in the First Schedule to this Act:

Provided however, that if such recognised political party, political party or elector fails to nominate a candidate, within the time allowed therefor, then—

(a) if is only one remaining candidate, such candidate shall be declared elected to the office of President;

(b) if there are more than one remaining candidate, the poll shall be taken as specified in the notice under section 21, as if the name of the deceased candidate were deleted from the ballot papers and all other documents relating to the election; and

[S 22(1) subs by s 6 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(2) The Commissioner shall, upon receipt of such nomination, forthwith publish a notice in the Gazette stating the fact of such death and that the poll shall be taken as specified in the notice under section 21 as if the name of the candidate nominated under subsection (1) were substituted in place of the deceased candidate in the ballot papers and in all other documents relating to the election.

(3) .

[S 22(3) rep by s 6 of Act 16 of 1988.]

23. 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 under this Act may vote by post, and shall not vote in person, at such election. Any person who votes in person at an 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 for the purpose of an election may be made—

(a) by a member of the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, or Sri Lanka Air Force, or an officer or servant in the Department of Police, Department of Prisons, Sri Lanka Government Railway the Department of Posts and 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

[S 23(2)(a) am by s 7 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(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.

(3) An application to be treated as a postal voter for the purpose of an election shall be made to the returning officer of the electoral district where such applicant is registered as an elector so as to reach him within ten days from the date of publication of the Order under section 2. Such application shall be substantially in the form prescribed for the purpose by the regulations contained in the Second Schedule to this Act.

(4) No application to be treated as a postal voter for the purpose of an election shall be allowed by the 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 the returning officer on an application to be treated as a postal voter for the purpose of an election shall be communicated in writing to the applicant.

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

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

(9) The returning officer of an electoral district shall, as soon as practicable, send by post to each person who is entitled to be treated as a postal voter for the purpose of an election, 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

(e) 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 for the purpose of an election 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 for the purpose of an election is in this Act referred to as a "postal ballot paper”.

(12) The returning officer of any electoral district 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 for the purpose of an election. 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.

24. Official poll card.

(1) The returning officer for any electoral district shall send to each elector whose name appears in the register for that electoral district 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 and number of the electoral district;

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

(c) the polling division and the polling district;

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

(e) the date and hours of the poll:

Provided that no such card shall be sent to an elector who is entitled to be treated as a postal voter or to an elector in respect of whom an application made under section 119B has been allowed.

[S 24(1) am by s 11 of Act 35 of 1988.]

(2) An official poll card under subsection (1) shall be so 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.

25. 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 electoral district. 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.

26. Facilities to be provided at polling stations.

(1) For the purposes of an election, the returning officer of an electoral district shall—

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

(b) furnish each polling station in that electoral district 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 and against the name of every elector in respect of whom an application the part of that register supplied to each such presiding officer;

[S 26(1) am by s 12 of Act 35 of 1988.]

(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.

27. 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 candidate, the symbol allotted to such candidate and—

(i) in the case of a candidate nominated by a recognised political party or any other political party, the name of such party; and

(ii) in the case of a candidate nominated by an elector, the name of such elector.

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

28. 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.

29. Ballot papers.

(1) The votes at an election 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 B set out in the First Schedule to this Act, and—

(a) shall contain a list of the candidates in Sinhala, Tamil and English, described, subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of section 20, as in their respective nomination papers, and arranged alphabetically in Sinhala in the order of their surnames, or where there is no surname, in the order of their names, or where there is no surname or name, in the order of their other names;

(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.

30. Hours of poll.

Unless the Commissioner, by notification in the Gazette, appoints any other hour, the poll shall open at seven o' clock in the forenoon of the day appointed under section 2 and shall close at four o'clock in the afternoon of that day.

31. Appointment of the election agent.

(1) On or before the day of nomination a person shall be appointed in writing by or on behalf of each candidate as his agent for such election and such person is in this Act referred to as the election agent. In the event of no such appointment being made by or on behalf of such candidate on or before that day, such candidate shall be deemed to have appointed himself as his election agent.

(2) A candidate may appoint himself as his election agent, and thereupon shall, so far as circumstances admit, be subject to the provisions of this Act, both as a candidate and as an election agent, and any reference in this Act to an election agent shall be construed to refer to the candidate acting in his capacity as election agent.

(3) Each candidate or some other person on his behalf shall forthwith, after his election agent has been appointed under subsection (1), declare in writing the name, the number of the national or other identity card issued by a government department or public corporation, and address of such agent to the Commissioner, and the Commissioner shall forthwith, by affixing a notice in a conspicuous place outside his office, give public notification of the name and address of every election agent so declared.

[S 31(3) am by s 8 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(4) One election agent only shall be appointed for each candidate, but the appointment, whether the election agent appointed be the candidate himself for not, may be revoked and in the event of such revocation or of his death, whether such event is before, during or after the election, then forthwith another election agent shall be appointed, and his name, the number of the national or other identity card issued by a government department or public corporation and address declared in writing to the Commissioner who shall forthwith give public notice of the same in the manner aforesaid. In the event of another election agent not being so appointed, the candidate shall, except in the case where the election agent who has died is the candidate himself, be deemed to have appointed himself as his election agent in place of the agent whose appointment was revoked or the agent who died.

[S 31(4) am by s 8 of Act 16 of 1988.]

32. Appointment of authorised and other agents.

(1) Each election agent may appoint not more than one authorised agent in respect of each electoral district the name, the number of the national or other identity card issued by a government department or public corporation and address of each such authorised agent shall be notified by the election agent in writing to the returning officer of that electoral district within one week from the date of nomination. In the event of no appointment being made as aforesaid, such election agent shall be deemed to have appointed himself as his authorised agent.

[S 32(1) am by s 9 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(2) An authorised agent referred to in subsection (1), may appoint not more than one divisional agent in respect of each polling division within that electoral district the name, the number of the national or other identity card issued by a government department or public corporation and address of each such divisional agent shall be notified by the authorised agent in writing to the returning officer of that district within two weeks from the date of nomination. In the event of no appointment being made as aforesaid, such authorised agent shall be deemed to have appointed himself as the divisional agent.

[S 32(2) am by s 9 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(3) —

(a) Each divisional agent may appoint a reasonable number of polling agents for each polling station within that polling division 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, the numbers of the national or other identity card issued by a government department or public corporation and addresses of the persons appointed shall be given by the divisional agent to the presiding officer at that station before the opening of the poll or during the poll.

[S 32(3)(a) am by s 9 of Act 16 of 1988.]

(b) Not more than two polling agents in respect of each candidate shall at any time be admitted to or be allowed to remain in any polling station.

(c) No polling agent whose name has not been notified to the presiding officer as required by paragraph (a) shall be admitted to a polling station. Appointment of authorised and other agents.

33. General conduct of the poll.

(1) No person shall be admitted to vote at any polling station other than the polling station set apart for the group of voters to which he belongs.

(2) The presiding officer shall keep order in his station, and shall regulate the number of voters to be admitted at a time and shall exclude all other persons except the candidates, election agents, authorised agents, divisional agents and polling agents, and the police officers on duty and other persons officially employed at the polling station.

(3) If any person misconducts himself in the polling station, or fails to obey the lawful orders of the presiding officer, the presiding officer may cause him to be removed forthwith from the polling station by any police officer or by any other person authorised in writing by the presiding officer or by the returning officer.

(4) Any person removed from a polling station under subsection (3)—

(a) shall not, except with the permission of the presiding officer, be allowed to enter the polling station again during the hours of the poll; and

(b) may, if he is charged with the commission of any offence in that station, be kept in custody until he can be brought before a Magistrate:

Provided that the powers conferred by this subsection shall not be exercised so as to prevent any voter who is otherwise entitled to vote at any polling station from having an opportunity of voting at such station.

34. Sealing of ballot boxes and commencement of poll.

(1) Immediately before the commencement of the poll, the presiding officer at a polling station—

(a) shall show the ballot papers, the official seal, the official mark and the copies of the parts of the register of electors, to be used at the poll to such persons, if any, as may be present in such station; and

(b) shall also show each ballot box to be used at the commencement of the poll empty to the persons aforesaid so that they may see that it is empty, and shall then lock it up and place his seal upon it in such manner as to prevent it being opened without breaking such seal, and shall place it in his view for the receipt of ballot papers and keep it so locked and sealed. The duties imposed on the presiding officer by the preceding provisions of this section shall be performed by him in such manner as to ensure that the poll is opened at the hour fixed by this Act.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) shall apply to every ballot box which is to be used after the commencement of the poll.

35. Issue of ballot papers.

(1) Each voter shall be given one ballot paper and shall have one vote.

(2) The ballot paper shall be delivered to the voter by the presiding officer or a person acting under his authority. Immediately before the ballot paper is delivered to the voter—

(a) the number, name and description of the voter as stated in the copy of the register of electors shall be called out;

(aa) a valid identity document of the voter shall be inspected and the name and identity ascertained.

[S 35(2)(aa) ins by s 9 of Act 14 of 2004.]

(b) the number of the voter shall be marked on the counterfoil, and the ballot paper detached therefrom;

(c) the ballot paper shall be either stamped, embossed or perforated with the official mark; and

(d) a mark shall be placed in the register against the name of the voter to denote that he has received a ballot paper, but without showing the particular ballot paper he has received.

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

(1) No ballot paper shall be delivered to any voter at an election—

(a) if he refuses to allow the presiding officer or a person acting under his authority to make the appropriate inspection of the mark or valid identity document; or

[S 36(1)(a) am by s 10 of Act 14 of 2004.]

(b) if, having allowed such inspection, it discloses that either such voter has already been marked with the appropriate mark or facts giving rise to suspicion over the identity of the voter; or

[S 36(1)(b) am by s 10 of Act 14 of 2004.]

(c) if having allowed such inspection, it discloses that such voter has not already been marked with the appropriate mark, but such voter refuses to allow such officer or person to mark such voter with the appropriate mark, and accordingly such voter shall,

notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other provisions of this Act, not be entitled to vote at such election.

(2) The presiding officer of a polling station shall enter on a list substantially in form C set out in the First Schedule to this Act, the following particulars relating to each voter to whom a ballot paper was not delivered at such station under subsection (1)—

(a) the number of such voter in the register of electors;

(b) the name and address of such voter as it appears in such register; and

(c) the ground on which a ballot paper was not delivered to such voter.

Such list is in this Act called the "list of voters to whom ballot papers are not delivered under section 36”.

(3) In this section—

(a) the expression "appropriate mark” means a mark made with indelible ink;

(b) the term "appropriate” with reference to any context connected with or relating to the inspection or marking of a voter, means—

(i) the little finger of his left hand or, if such finger is missing, any other finger of his left hand; or

(ii) if all the fingers of his left hand are missing,, the little finger of his right hand, or if such finger is missing, any other finger of his right hand; or

(iii) if all the fingers of his left and right hands are missing such extremity of his left or right hand as such voter possesses.

37. Manner of voting.

(1) The voter, on receiving the ballot paper, shall forthwith proceed into the compartment to which he is directed by the presiding officer or any person acting under that officer's authority and there secretly mark the ballot paper as near as may be in accordance with the directions given for the guidance of voters in the Third Schedule to this Act and fold the ballot paper so as to conceal his vote, and shall then show to the presiding officer the reverse of the paper, so as to disclose the official mark, and put the ballot paper, so folded, into the ballot box in the presence of the presiding officer.

(2) The presiding officer may at any time while a poll is proceeding take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that no voter delays unduly in any place reserved for the marking of ballot paper

38. Assistance to voters to enable them to vote.

(1) The presiding officer, or any person authorised by the presiding officer, may, if he thinks fit on the application of any voter, explain to the voter, within sight and hearing to vote, of the polling agents, if present, the method of voting specified in the directions specified in the Third Schedule to this Act but in so doing he shall carefully abstain from any action which might be construed by the voter as advice or a direction to vote for any particular candidate.

(2) —

(a) Any voter who is subject to a disability and such disability prevents the voter from voting in accordance with the directions given for the guidance of voters in the Third Schedule to the principal enactment may be accompanied by a person who shall mark the ballot paper of such voter in the manner directed by the voter in the presence of the presiding officer and another member of his polling staff and cause such ballot paper to be placed in the ballot box.

(b) A person subject to a disability who wishes to be accompanied by a person to vote shall be eligible to do so if such person produces a Certificate of Eligibility substantially in the Form set out in the Fifth Schedule to this Act, to the presiding officer or another member of his staff.

(c) For the purposes of this section —

"accompanying person” shall be a person not less than eighteen years of age and shall—

(i) not be a candidate who is contesting at the relevant election;

(ii) not be a presiding officer, an authorised officer or a polling agent at the relevant election;

(iii) not be a person subject to a disability;

"disability” in relation to a registered voter who is subject to a disability and who is eligible to vote in terms of
paragraph (
b) of this section, means—

(i) a total or partial visual impairment; or

(ii) a physical disability,

which prevents the voter from validly marking his ballot paper.

[S 38(2) subs by s 11 of Act 28 of 2011.]

39. Voting by proxy for bidden.

No voter shall be entitled to vote by proxy at an election under this Act.

40. Prohibition of plural voting.

If any person at an election under this Act—

(a) votes in more than one electoral district or asks for a ballot paper for the purpose of so voting; or

(b) votes more than once in the same electoral district or asks for a ballot paper for the purpose of so voting, he shall be guilty of an illegal practice

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