Polls chief says ballot papers found in school does not affect results

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Results of the election including the preferential vote counts would not be affected by the marked ballot papers found at St. Andrew’s College counting centre in Puttalam, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday.

Several parties including Janasetha Peramuna and Democratic Party demanded a re-poll for the Puttalam District, but the Polls Chief insisted that there was no need for any such measures.

Deshapriya was addressing a media conference at the Elections Department Auditorium in Rajagiriya. "We will conduct a fresh election for the district only if the court gives an order to that effect," he said.

 The Elections Chief said that the ballot papers found in the school laboratory had been marked as counted ballot papers.

Deshapriya said they had been left there by mistake without being taken to the Divisional Secretariat.

The police had handed over the inquiry to the Criminal Investigations Department and a separate committee would be appointed by the Secretary to the Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry, the Polls Chief said, adding that the committee would include an official from his department.

Deshapriya said that representatives of every political party and every independent group that contested the election from the Puttalam District had been there when counting took place and no one had complained of any malpractice.

Deshapriya said those who had left the ballot papers behind would be punished after a proper inquiry.

Such incidents were likely to tarnish the image of the Elections Department, he said.

The elections chief said it was the third such incident in the recent years.

He said the occurrence of such incidents pointed to the need for an electronic voting system to replace the existing system.

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