E-voting error throws House into turmoil

Digital screen shows absent MP’s vote; Mangala’s vote not registered

By Saman Indrajith

A tense situation arose in Parliament yesterday (23) evening when the Active Liability Management Bill was taken up for the second reading vote as the digital screen indicated that Minister S. B Dissanayake had voted though he was not present in the House.

The final vote count said that the Billhad received 53 votes in favour and 33 against. When Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced the result and gave the nod for the third reading, MP Bandula Gunawardena protested.

Gunawardena: "The voting list of the MPs on digital screen of shows that Minister S.B Dissanayake voted for the Bill. But, he wasn’t even present here. How can that happen?"

At this juncture, all the Joint Opposition MPs rushed to the well shouting slogans.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s vote had not been recorded though he had cast his vote.

Speaker Jayasuriya suspended the sittings for 10 minutes for a Party Leaders’ meeting. The sitting was resumed at 6.35 pm and the Speaker announced that the error was due to a technical glitch. "So the second reading vote would be taken again in the traditional manner," he said.

However, the Joint Opposition members walked out of the House in protest. 

The Bill was passed at the Committee Stage by majority of 51 votes. Only the JVP’s Nalinda Jayatissa and Bimal Rathnayake were voted against the Bill.

Thereafter, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that the JO members had banged on the door of the Speaker as they left the House. There should be an investigation against them, he stressed.

The Speaker said that he, too, noticed that. "I will look into that and take appropriate action," he said.

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