With a 65% voter turnout, the Southern Provincial Council poll ended at 4 pm yesterday on a relatively peaceful note without any major incidents of violence reported from the Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts, senior election and police officials said.
Matara district saw 60%-65% polling, Hambantota district 60%-62% and Galle district 62% at yesterday’s poll to elect 55 members (including two bonus seats)to the Southern Provincial Council.
"The voter turnout was satisfactory for a provincial poll", a senior election official said. "It was within the expected range".
Polling started at 7 am amidst tight police security and concluded at 4 pm virtually incident-free, he said.
The voter turnout was in the three districts was initially poor, but picked up after a couple of hours since polling began, he said.
UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP, said the voter turnout was relatively low when compared with polling in the other Provincial Council elections conducted in the recent past.
He conceded that there were no major incidents of violence except for a few minor complaints of threats and intimidation.
"The polls were relatively peaceful", he said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa accompanied by Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa and brothers Chamal and Basil cast their votes at the D. A. Rajapaksa Vidyalaya polling booth at Medamulane, their home-town.
Senior Presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa, MP said that despite allegations by some that violence was on the increase, the polling was very peaceful the voters turned out in numbers with enthusiasm and behaved in a very exemplary manner.
"Victory is not an issue in the South — this would be a historic victory for the UPFA", he said.
UPFA General Secretary and Minister Susil Premajayanth predicted that an unprecedented victory for the UPFA. "We secured 72.2% in Uva and we would get more in the South".
Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake said that the counting of postal votes would commence once all the Ballot Boxes reached the counting centers by 6 pm yesterday. The first results can be expected by midnight.
Director of Government Information Anusha Pelpita said that special provisions had been made for announcing the official result once the Commissioner of Elections had certified them. The results they would be announced over the State and Private Television and Radio Channels and copies of the results would be faxed to Print Media institutions.
Deputy Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya said that 23 members would be elected from the Galle District, 18 from the Matara District and 12 from the Hambantota District to the 55-member (including the two bonus seats) Southern Provincial Council.
Additional Commissioner of Elections (Provincial and Local) W. P. Sumanasiri said that 14,766 persons were eligible to cast their postal votes in the Galle District, 8,390 in the Matara District and 8,002 in the Hambantota District and these would be counted initially and the results announced first.
District Secretary of Galle and Chief Returning Officer Asoka Jayasekera said the voter turnout was 62% at close of the poll.
District Secretary of Matara and Chief Returning Officer Mrs W. K. K. Atukorale said the voter turnout was 60%-65% while the District Secretary of Hambantota and Chief Returning Officer R. M. B. P. Meegasmulla said polling in his district was in the range of 60%-62%.