Ballot paper-buying plan bared

Covert plans by a Gampaha District politician of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance to buy ballot papers from drug addicts, alcoholics and poverty-stricken people have been exposed, the Sunday Times learns.

The plans were discussed at length during a closed door meeting the politician had with several associates, according to complaints made to the Elections Commissioner.

The modus operandi appears to be simple. A prospective seller will be instructed to enter the polling booth and collect his/hers ballot paper from the election officials after furnishing the required documents. He or she is expected to bring the unmarked ballot paper concealed in his clothing and obtain the fee.

For this purpose the sellers will be advised to wear long sleeves since it will be easier to conceal the ballot paper, the Sunday Times learns. The ballot paper will later be marked for the selected candidate and taken into the booth by a second voter who will then drop it into the box, and bring his unmarked ballot paper out.

Each ballot will be bought for about Rs. 5000, it is learnt. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has brought the matter up with the Elections Commissioner while independent polls observers expressed serious concern saying they would be monitoring the situation closely on election day.

Centre for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) coordinator Keerthi Tennekoon said his group had received several reports of this nature and was taking necessary action.

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