The Elections Department yesterday dismissed claims that about 2.6 million voters would not be able to exercise their franchise at the presidential election, unless they were issued with at least a temporary identity card by the Registrar of Persons.
A section of the press recently quoted Registrar of Persons A. G. Dharmadasa as saying that 2.6 million voters were without any form of identification, including the National Identity Card (NIC). He went on to say that government approval had been sought to hire a group of retired public servants to help in an accelerated programme to issue temporary identity cards ahead of the presidential poll scheduled for January 26.
An authoritative spokesman for the Elections Secretariat told The Island that this was nothing but a misrepresentation of facts due to ignorance on the part of the relevant authorities.
The Election Secretariat said that the NIC, passport, driving license, pensioners identity card, senior citizens identity card, temporary identity card issued at the last round of elections to Provincial Councils except in the North and a special identity card issued to members of the clergy by the registrar of Persons would be valid for voting at the election.
Responding to our queries, he said that the election staff had collected the temporary identity cards issued to voters at the Provincial Council and action would be taken to authorize them again for use at the Presidential poll. "We’ll distribute them through Grama Sevaka Niladhiris," he said adding that there could not be any problem with identity regarding the holding of the presidential and parliamentary elections early next year.
Asked whether the voters in the Northern and Eastern provinces would experience any difficulties in exercising their franchise, the official said that action was being to taken to ensure a stable environment in that region.
He said that except the elections for Uva and Southern Provincial Councils, the rest were held according to the 2007 electoral register. The Uva and Southern PC polls were held according to the 2008 electoral register, he said adding that the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary polls would be held in keeping with the 2008 register.
He said that new temporary identity cards would be issued free of charge through Grama Sevaka Niladharis and estate superintendents on the basis that applications should be handed over on or before January 15th.
The election staff would also accept a temporary identity card which would be issued by the Registrar of Persons shortly, he said.
The Election Secretariat said that the NIC, passport, driving license, pensioners identity card, senior citizens identity card, temporary identity card issued at the last round of elections to Provincial Councils except in the North and a special identity card issued to members of the clergy by the registrar of Persons would be valid for voting at the forthcoming Presidential election.