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ID compulsory for voting on Saturday

COLOMBO : The national ID or a recognised photo ID will be compulsory to vote at Saturday's mini poll for 20 local councils.

This new rule is to be strictly enforced at the forthcoming election to minimise election malpractices.

Colombo district Returning Officer Mahinda Deshapriya said "no one without an ID issued by a recognised Government authority will be issued ballot papers at the polling station".

The IDs were first made compulsory at the March mini poll by Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake. Although the rule faced much resistance from certain political parties, after the March poll the Commissioner declared it was a great success. There had been only isolated incidents of protests from voters.

Authorised IDs for voting include national ID, Pension cards, Passports, Driving Licence and the Train Pass.

The Elections Secretariat made IDs mandatory for voting from this year after PAFFREL went before the Supreme Court early this year seeking the implementation of the 2004 Act with this new regulation.

Saturday's poll is held to select members for 20 local bodies of which the elections were postponed due to pending court cases. These include four Municipal Councils; Galle, Gampaha, Colombo and Kalmunai and three Urban Councils; Gampola, Wattegedera and Kathankudi. The Elections Secretariat has called upon voters without photo-IDs to get a stamp size photograph certified from the Grama Niladari and the Divisional Secretaries to gain access to the polling booth to cast their votes.

"We will not be taking fingerprints from those who come without IDs to let them cast their vote like we did at the March poll," Deshapriya said.

All propaganda meetings and activities will have to end tonight, in line with the customary 48-hour deadline.

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