Sri Lanka will have its longest ever ballot paper in the November presidential election, the Election Commissioner said on Tuesday, after as many as 35 candidates filed nominations for the contest, said to be a record number of candidates.
The Commission will incur additional costs on the long ballot paper, pushing the cost of the election from the initially estimated $22 million to $28 million, officials told the media on Tuesday. The ballot paper will have symbols of all the candidates listed on it, with the party or alliance they represent, and voters are entitled to mark up to three preferences for President. “They don’t have to necessarily mark three preferences, but they could if they wish to,” an official told The Hindu.
The Election Commission is preparing material and films to educate voters on exercising the preferential voting option. Awareness films will soon be telecast on local television, according to officials of the Commission.
Prominent among the candidates who filed nominations on Monday are the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)’s Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a powerful ex-Defence Secretary and the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the ruling United National Party’s deputy leader Sajith Premadasa, who are the two main contestants in this poll.
The leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’s Anura Kumara Dissanayake and former Army commander Mahesh Senanayake are also in the fray, which includes only one woman candidate, scientist Ajantha Perera, and two Buddhist monks.
Additionally, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)’s M. K. Sivajilingam and former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hisbullah filed nominations as independents.