Ready for rigging?
PC poll cards with top candidates;
Officials downplay leak

By Mahangu Weerasinghe
Polling cards for the upcoming Provincial Council Elections have come into circulation in the Kandy District this week, ahead of their scheduled date of official release, with some cards making their way into the hands of top candidates.

A Provincial Council candidate who wished to remain anonymous told The Sunday Times that several senior members of his party were in possession of blue-coloured polling cards which they were planning to make use of "liberally" in rigging the July 10 polls.

The candidate, however, said that he did not want to take up the matter officially, as he feared repercussions from within the party. The Sunday Times investigations show that the Elections Department is still in the process of writing addresses on the polling cards, the delivery of which is due later this month.

Government Printer Neville Nanayakkara told The Sunday Times that the polling cards for the PC election had been printed early this year as the terms of the many Provincial Councils were to end in April/May.

Mr. Nanayakkara, however, admitted that security arrangements implemented when polling cards were being printed were relatively lax when compared with the printing of ballot papers.

When we contacted an Elections Department official for comment, he downplayed the significance of polling cards reaching the hands of candidates and the need to adopt countermeasures such as pasting stickers.

Stating that fraud detection at a polling booth was the responsibility of polling officers, he said the polling card was used merely for identification purposes. He, however, conceded that leaked polling cards might facilitate impersonation.

Kandy District Additional District Secretary E.M.N.M. Ekanayake, one of the officials responsible for the conduct of the elections in the district, declined to comment on the situation.

Official apathy that encourages malpractice appears to continue in spite of warnings on the reverse of the polling cards that possessing a polling card other than a one addressed to the holder is an offence.

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