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Greenlight for teen voters

Amendments to the Registration of Electors Act No 44 of 1980 have been proposed.

This will allow all citizens to get themselves registered in the Electoral Register, when they attain 18 years.

President Maithripala Sirisena who submitted the above proposal to Cabinet received the green light this week to allow more youth to enter into the voting system.

At present, the Act specifies that a citizen who completes 18 and fulfils all required criteria would be registered on June 1 of every year.

This would mean that if an election is called prior to or after this date, a citizen who turns 18 after June 1, will not be registered to vote. This technical fault has resulted in many citizens not voting at 18, but over a year later, as they turn 19 years and three months.

The Election Commission has also informed the President that it now only takes six months to finalise the register instead of the previous time period of one year and thus registrations can be done faster.

Having taken these factors into consideration, the Cabinet paper submitted by the President proposed that: “Those who complete 18 years of age after the certification of the register of electors and before the commencement of the next annual revision could be included in a supplement to the register of electors already certified and to include the said supplement list as a valid part of the certified register of electors to enable them to participate in polls and a four week period be declared to provide an opportunity for any person, if he or she wished to lodge objections before certification of the supplementary register prepares as proposed under the current law, to the names of the new electors who are eligible to make claims for inclusion of their names in the supplementary register of electors during the four weeks”.

An adjournment motion moved in this regard on July 4, 2007 had the House reach general consensus on the matter. The President has asked that the amendments be sent to the Legal Draftsman’s and thereafter be submitted to Parliament.