Colombo, Elections, Politics and Governance

A bizarre polling card: Evidence of a flawed election?

We feature this video captured by Groundviews today without any additional comment because it is abundantly clear which candidate the sign stapled on to this anomalous polling card refers to. It is also very clear what such an indication outrageously and completely illegally attached to a polling card implies.

As this voter asks in the video, who has the power to commit such a gross violation of election laws?

Click here for high resolution image of this polling card.

An English transcript of the video follows:

I am Prasanna Perera. I live in Kottawa, in the Pannipitiya area. When polling cards were being distributed for this time’s presidential elections, our house also gets four polling cards. My brother, myself, my mother and father. These polling cards were distributed on the 24th. I saw it on the morning of the 25th. When I saw it, there was stapled to the polling card this sign of a beetle leaf with a cross marked alongside. When I asked my father who stapled this, he said that the card was received in the same manner. When I asked further, he said that the postmaster had distributed it and that he had not considered it to be that much of a problem, because of the way he will cast his vote. But it was a problem for me. After seeing this in the morning, I went to the Pannipitiya Post Office. But they informed that the Postmaster was not in. After this, I told someone in the post office that I wanted to talk about this issue further. They were hesitant to do so, and said that they were extremely busy these days.

What I say is this. Who has the power to commit such a gross violation of election laws? This is a completely unlawful act. I don’t have time to do anything about this now. There is only one day left for the election. I had no way to even tell the media about this today because there was no time, and the election will be held soon.

All I want to say is that the public should be more aware of these acts that go against elections.

  • Dhiraj

    No offence, but this could well be staged. And surprise, surprise a video was filmed as well?

  • Ran banda – Kotte

    DEAR PRASANNA,

    IF YOU ARE REQUESTED TO VOTE FOR THE LEAF. PLEASE VOTE FOR IT.

  • Sri Lankan elections fraudsters taught the Iranians how to cheat, Its 60 years hence, best cheats in everything, excepting being honest.. Bulath kola, he should have stuck a 2000 rupees note, would have been cheaper 2000 x 14 mio makes it 2,8 Bio, cheaper than sticking a cheating sticker.

  • rav

    Ran Bando
    Who can ask another person to use his vote according to others.
    You guys are gone mad I think…Our motherland need a big big change by tomorrow.
    Rav from UK

  • Travelling Academic

    There is a high resolution image and a low resolution image. So it has been scanned to high resolution and downsampled to low resolution (the reverse is a bit difficult, says Information Theory); the name the guy quotes is much smaller than what is written in the card. And he has long hair. How many men in Pannipitiya have long hair, I ask you? With his NIC number and name visible, why is he so camera shy? Due to these reasons, experts have concluded that this video is a fake. No need to investigate this any further. It is an obvious conspiracy by Western powers and their local agents (aka traitors). Sort it out tomorrow guys. Shame on me, I don’t even have a vote.

    • @Travelling Academic, spot on! We knew it would be the long hair that gave the game away. Bugger.

  • NILAMAL

    This is clearly an attempt at tarnishing the image of the country. If this was done in the tea plantations or in the remote villages of Moneragala where the literacy rate is low then there would have been an effect on the poll. To do it in the Colombo district would not affect the outcome of the poll and no one will be that stupid unless it was done to tarnish the image of the UPFA which is the obvious conclusion I arrived at.
    I also ditto the sentiments of the travelling academic.

  • ITotally agree with Travelling academic and the flaws that he is trying to explain, as this video has lot of Technical errors, Even voice may have dubbed after the recording. Dynamic levels of voice are not matching with microphone vs. head movements.

  • lals

    Frist, thank you Groundviw for reporting this. It is an important and interesting story.

    It is also extremely important to know if this persons neighbourhood received the same and it is very easy to check out by knocking on at least a couple doors in the neighbourhood.

    Is this evidence of a flawed election?

    I wonder as long as humans are allowed to conduct an election, if any election anywhere ever be perfect. I believe that any election anywhere would be to a greater or lesser extent “flawed”. So the question would be, to what extent is it flawed ?

    Remember the Americans, the so called pillars of democracy? And Florida – pregnant chads – and eventually the dad appointed supreme court handing over the election to the son ? How is that for a flawed election ? Oh by the way, Canadian prime minister (the system we are trying to change our system to – no executive president in that country ) prorogued the parliament in December until March !

    Don’t forget that we are a poor country and we are trying their centuries old system for 60 years and half that time the country was under attack by the most ruthless terrotist group at that time.

    Let’s try not to be overly negative about our country – flawed election? – under the circumstances, we are doing not too badly.

    I hope things will even be better after the election.

    Meanwhile lets say the glass is half full (which is true and not false) for our contry !

  • priyantha

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH ATTACHING A PIECE OF PAPER SUGGESTING WHOM TO VOTE? MOST OF OUR VOTERS MIGHT BE TOO CONFUSED TO REMEMBER WHO IS FROM WHICH PARTY ETC.

    ANYWAY I THINK THAT THIS IS CHEAPER AND MORE ETHICAL THAN GETTING THUGS TO STEAL IDS OR ENTER THE POLLING BOOTHS ILLEGALLY.

    THIS IS THE BEST FORM OF DEMOCRACY POSSIBLE IN OUR MUGABE TYPE GOVERNMENT. FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT TOLERATE IT – GO ABROAD AND LET OUR POLITICIANS DO AS THEY WISH. WHAT BETTER CAN YOU EXPECT FROM A BUNCH OF UNEDUCATED NINCOMPOOPS!

    DIDN’T WE HEAR ABOUT THIS KIND OF ELECTIONS IN IRAQ AND ZIMBABWE AND MYANMAR AND IRAN? EVEN OTHER PARIAH NATIONS FOLLOW OUR SUPREME EXAMPLE.

  • veera

    Last minute attemt to tarnish MRs image.
    I havent heard this drama in any other media.
    Anyway good try.

    • @veera, you give us too much credit. We cannot hope to ever compete with the tarnishing of MR’s image by MR himself.

  • Tikiri Banda

    Ran Banda : Well said.
    Prasanna Perera : Please do as the polling card says.

  • priyantha

    IT IS A PITY THAT WE ARE WITNESS TO THE GREATEST INSULT TO PROFESSIONALISM IN THIS COUNTRY. AS A GOVERNMENT SERVANT I AM ASHAMED AT THE CONDUCT OF OUR COLLEAGUES WHO ARE FORCED INTO THE LIMELIGHT TO PROMOTE A PARTICULAR CANDIDATE AT THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

    FOR THE FIRST TIME WE SEE OFFICERS OF THE SECURITY FORCES FORCED TO PAY LIP SERVICE PUBLICLY WITH THE IGP SHAMELESSLY SUPPORTING A CANDIDATE. MINISTRIES ARE USED AS PROPAGANDA PORTALS AND WAR HEROES SERVING CURRENTLY ARE SEEN ON TV REFUTING COMMENTS BY COMPETING CANDIDATES. EVEN THE CHIEF OF INTELLIGENCE WAS ON TV REFUTING CLAIMS!

    WE SEE CUT OUTS OF A PARTICULAR CANDIDATE BEING PROTECTED BY UNIFORMED POLICEMEN AND THE SHAMELESS ABUSE OF THE GOVERNMENT MEDIA INSTITUTIONS AS PROPAGANDA MACHINES EVEN AFTER THE CESSATION OF CAMPAIGNS.

    WE HAVE EVEN SEEN THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE BEING USED TO SLING MUD AT THE OPPOSITION.

    NO WONDER THAT IN YEARS TO COME THERE WOULD BE SCANT RESPECT GIVEN TO PUBLIC SERVICE. HOW CAN WE EXPECT THE PUBLIC TO RESPECT US WHEN WE HAVE LOST ALL RESPECT FOR OURSELVES?

  • veera

    GroundViews: Complain is not directly agaist you but the long haired guy (or who doctored this) speaks clear Sinhalese, well prepared, made no mistakes and delivered only necessary info. This person is highly unlikely an ordinary citizen. May be he’s well talented guy like a media personel or voice is dubbed later on.

  • ASANKA

    THIS IS COMPLETELY FABRICATED STORY,……

  • Janaka

    @ groundview,
    Your true colors are coming out right on the election day. Thank god the majority of Lankans do not watch these rubbish.

  • Sudat

    Oh to hell with it; lets shoot the messenger.

  • Observer

    I just contacted a friend in the area. Obviously his papers did not have this! Clearly some one played around with scissors and a stapler.

    we warmly welcome anyone to prove that this is in fact staged.

    Isn’t it your job to prove to the public in fact it was NOT staged. At least you have the obligation to get the postmaster’s statement. If he’s not there then you withhold until you get it. You don’t accuse someone without getting a statement from them. That’s basic responsibility in journalism! My initial findings suggest it was in fact staged. But it’s your word against mine isn’t it. If I stapled a piece of paper showing a swan and a cross then my claim has same credibility as yours. All I have to do is cover my face and drop few lines to the camera.

    I guess it’s a another groundviews allegation due to the usual lacking of credible evidence.

  • Observer

    @ groundviews, travelling academic – sarcasm aside,

    No one disputes the fact that the polling card isn’t authentic. Given all his details are there including NIC no. and residential address his identity is revealed to the full extent. So, I don’t see the fuss of him not showing his face. It only adds doubt that maybe the person pretending to be in the video may not be the person indicated in the polling card. If he showed the face then, someone could have personally visited him at the said address and verified the claims.

    Add to the this, the fact that when I called someone else in the area, their ballot paper did not have this stapled piece of paper. So your allegation is hanging by a very thin thread. Just keep that in mind.

  • Siribiris

    One misled vote does not make a difference in the result.
    Ten misled voters does not make a difference.
    Hundred misled voters does not make a difference.
    How about a thousand? Ten thousand?
    How about 180,786 misled voters?

  • Cengal

    “Dynamic levels of voice are not matching with microphone vs. head movements.”

    And exactly how did you reach that conclusion? Did you go out and buy the same model of microphone and then attempt to correlate decibel levels with simulated movements?

  • Mr Minority

    I am someone who didn’t want to leave this country, but now I have decided that I will pack my bags and leave with my family unless there is regime change. I always beleived that we could build a beautiful country for our children, but it seems we will never have this because of these sadistic polticians. Will all the gods above not act. There should be atleast natural justice served on them.

  • Rohitha

    Govt hits the bottom of the barrel.

  • Observer

    Cenegal, they’re not being serious. Just lamely trying to be funny/sarcastic. Trying to work the fake execution video angle after the humiliation by the well detailed, factually backed rebuttal that had them resort to purely speculative defence of the video.

    This video is amature propaganda. Simple as that.

  • Observer

    so what i’m trying to say cenegal is that travelling academic and it academic are both on your side. you should feel esteemed that self proclaimed academics here are on your side! 😛

  • When right, keep it right. When wrong make it right! This is wrong. But it is in Sri Lanka, people are not aware of rules and regulations as previledged accademics. It can be a work from a postman who was paid by the locl politian. Politians are the most irresponsible group in Sri Lanka. They must be first eduated. Its good to criicise and make it right. Regarding election violence and murders, You cant blame that for the government. Often personal revenges are taken during elections. Police has to investigate them and punish the culprits. Its is not right to take political mileage out of isolated incidents and ruin the whole election. Then you are punishing collectively. Individuals and Society have to take responsibility to stop violence, government alone cant be behind every individual. Sri Lanka is a third world developing country, we cant expect election environment of developed countries. Even Goerge Bush made election fraud! Why not Sri Lanka?

  • chain reaction

    Siribiris

    You know what they say about cockroaches. If you see 1, there are a few hundred (or thousand) around. Same thing with fake ballots.

  • Seanarath

    This gye just reading some thing given to him. He don’t know the term ‘Post office’. He just reading that. He can close his head, why he closed the environment. He is a one jokers of the SF camp.

  • Travelling Academic

    @Observer
    “someone else I know hasn’t had it, therefore Perera Junior couldn’t have had it either” is the logic LTTE apologists have tried on me for well over quarter of a century. “I have done field work in Batti, I did not see any child recruits, therefore LTTE did not recruit children”, was the argument a professor of anthropology wrote to me!. I am old enough not to fall for such rubbish.

    In posting this item, GV appears to seek high standards for our election process, so they are reporting the flaws they find. This, I appreciate very much — we need to strive to make ourselves better. Investigating allegations to credible standards is part of making ourselves better. Your logic, on the other hand, is more in line with wanting to go back to the days of TULF getting a massive mandate for separation — voters were so enthusiastic that even dead people returned temporarily and voted to grant that mandate, remember? Now try your logic on me: “I know a dead uncle who didn’t come back to vote, therefore… etc”

    Me — my day job is analysing data with experimental errors — what I care most about now is if the difference between the winner’s count and the loser’s count is bigger than the estimated proportion of our countrymen who might be influenced by this joke with staples and similar mischieves. I will bet you a piLa of palmyrah toddy the winning margin will be bigger than the noise. In this regard, hats off to Perera Senior who seems to have said “No big deal, putha”. That is the spirit of my countrymen I cheer!!

  • Michael

    @Veera

    “speaks clear Sinhalese, well prepared, made no mistakes and delivered only necessary info.”

    So if someone sounds intelligent, politically savvy, and has the ability to speak without hesitation, his allegation is not valid? Where have we come to if we only give credibility to the seemingly unintelligent? And didn’t it ever occur to you, that to realise this kind of propaganda (assuming it is true,) is incorrect and unacceptable, one needs some kind of political awareness?

    Having said that, my polling card comes from Pannipitiya. My polling booth is Dharmapala Kanishta Vidyalaya, in Depanama. I have 11 other family members (uncles and aunts included), who receive their polling cards from Pannipitiya. None of us had this appendage to the polling card. So make of it what you will. Though I am not alleging anyone of a smear campaign, until so proven.

  • Dhiraj

    “Isn’t it your job to prove to the public in fact it was NOT staged. At least you have the obligation to get the postmaster’s statement. If he’s not there then you withhold until you get it. You don’t accuse someone without getting a statement from them. That’s basic responsibility in journalism!”

    I agree with this. It’s poor form just to make accusations with nothing to show as back up. Sad thing is that many Sri Lankan news outlets aren’t beyond doing that, and Groundviews is no exception.

  • jayathilaka

    this is a clear violation of election laws and if the receiver of this card is telling lies he can be arrested if not it is a sign that government is engaging election racket.

  • Observer

    @Observer
    “someone else I know hasn’t had it, therefore Perera Junior couldn’t have had it either” is the logic LTTE apologists have tried on me for well over quarter of a century.

    Well, gv seems to imply that it was done to all the ballot papers in the area. Meaning the sample was highly contaminated. Now, I have randomly checked this sample with few people and no one had this stapled piece of paper. I live in Battaramulla not far from Pannipitya so I know people in this area.

    “I have done field work in Batti, I did not see any child recruits, therefore LTTE did not recruit children”, was the argument a professor of anthropology wrote to me!. I am old enough not to fall for such rubbish.

    Of course why listen to professors when LTTE itself has acknowledged and released videos of child soldiers? I am glad you’re old enough to accept evidence provided by the guilty party, incriminating themselves. haha

    In posting this item, GV appears to seek high standards for our election process, so they are reporting the flaws they find. This, I appreciate very much — we need to strive to make ourselves better. Investigating allegations to credible standards is part of making ourselves better.

    How can the allegation be credible when the said person is the only one who seem to have received this ballot paper with the little stapled paper. Why hide the face when his identity is revealed? Is he planning on changing his name, NIC no and residence after appearing in this video? I guess it adds to the dramatic effect.

    High standards?? One way to look at this is violating election rules in favour of a certain candidate. You can put 2 and 2 together right? 😉 I’ll save myself typing a bit.

    Your logic, on the other hand, is more in line with wanting to go back to the days of TULF getting a massive mandate for separation — voters were so enthusiastic that even dead people returned temporarily and voted to grant that mandate, remember? Now try your logic on me: “I know a dead uncle who didn’t come back to vote, therefore… etc”

    Coherence would be appreciated.. I don’t see how my logic is in line with that rant. Sorry!

    Me — my day job is analysing data with experimental errors — what I care most about now is if the difference between the winner’s count and the loser’s count is bigger than the estimated proportion of our countrymen who might be influenced by this joke with staples and similar mischieves.

    Well would you have been influenced if this attachment was on your ballot paper? Would you have automatically put a cross on the leaf? I hear you say ABSOLUTELY NOT! Who do you take me for? A monkey??

    Ahh sir… Are you trying to say everyone else is slightly inferior to your intelligence? Hypothetically assuming a sample received ballot papers with the alleged attachment, we can assume a majority of them had common intelligence. In all fairness we can safely assume most of them are not monkeys! If monkey are getting ballot papers then now that’s a story worth giving coverage! Clearly I see some dodgy practices if that is the case. 😉

    Btw, my day job is analysing BS! Not really, it’s more of a hobby.

    I will bet you a piLa of palmyrah toddy the winning margin will be bigger than the noise. In this regard, hats off to Perera Senior who seems to have said “No big deal, putha”. That is the spirit of my countrymen I cheer!!

    Indeed, finally I agree with you. MR win is all but certain purely due to the fact that majority of the voters are not monkeys or gold fish (hopefully). I say monkeys because of those who believe the sensational kata katha that has gone viral lately.

    Latest I heard was that president has taken all the ballot boxes to Temple Trees and he is in the process of stuffing it with fake ballot papers. (At least have the creativity to say, some hidden warehouse). Someone told me this to my face with conviction. I tried very hard to keep a straight face as I did not want to hurt a dear friend who is an ardent UNPer.

    Oh dear… Gv, do you want to sniff that out? Just get someone to carry a box past Temple Trees on Galle Raod and quickly snap a photo without alerting the guards there.. haha. EXPLOSIVE MATERIAL!! Finally, I say gold fish because some forget who were the real pioneers of corruption and how they are greedily awaiting another go at soora kaama, in the process resorting to the most humiliating, degrading practices an election campaign has ever seen. SHAMEFUL!

  • Southernvoice

    this is not the one and only attempt of their violatinng laws. So why do many feel that nothing to be worried about a situation such a this, I cant understand. So long guys of your sort who just behave indifferent can pave thse sort of leader to further to be reelected and even create pakistan style state from our golden lanka. No matter any cards or anything have been distributed, but they should stay in fallen love with the guy who even does not respect supreme court decisions. Just to manipulate the masses – he goes merry go round. If the citizen of this country cant see it as it really is, it will be too late. Now hope the best for the mother lanka.

  • Heshan

    Well, this polling card fiasco should come as no surprise. After all, the “King” may not have reached everyone with his New Yrs Day text message. What is a little reminder to the peasants, after all? 🙂

    What we should be concerned with now is whether the dead, the non-existent, and future incarnations of the present manage to somehow vote…

    On another note, I am happy to see Observer and the other peasants playing Sherlock Holmes in defense of the King. I have a feeling that when the intellectual establishment à la Dayan J. have breathed their last, a recalcitrant class of subservient peasantry will be more resigned to their fate.

    As that cunning Italian chap Machiavelli once said, “it is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.”

  • LankaLiar

    Give this vedio to the same expert od Ch4 . Please write what conculsion you want. They will dcome to it for you. Some one talks about tarnishing the image. Is there any thing to tarnish.

  • CW

    Hello Prsanna, I do not know how old you are. In the 1980s there was a Presidential Candidate by the name of Hector Kobbekaduwa. His vote was cast by someone else at a Referendum, yet we called SL is a Democratic Country. So what is the fuss?

  • undergroundview

    It occurs to me that publishing such an allegation is a good way of finding out if anyone else has had a similar issue, and thus whether there is evidence of widespread “interference” with polling cards – or not…

    In any case I’d worry more about all the election spam that mobile phone users are getting. Who is sending it, why are they allowed to spam people, and who is paying/profiting from this nuisance. It’s not REALLY a public service to get partisan spam, whether you agree with the spammers or not.

  • Observer

    “On another note, I am happy to see Observer and the other peasants playing Sherlock Holmes in defense of the King.”

    Heshan, I am honored to be called a peasant and also Sherlock Holmes – one of the greatest fictional detectives!

    “I have a feeling that when the intellectual establishment à la Dayan J. have breathed their last, a recalcitrant class of subservient peasantry will be more resigned to their fate.”

    Your concerns are touching. However, we have not forgotten that we have indeed been through darker times, when UNP governments burnt bodies in tyres and populated the diyawanna oya with those roasted bodies. Driving past freshly went off bomb scenes where I still remember seeing the bloody ripped out arm. Those images etched in my head at a very impressionable age, has helped me a great deal in appreciating what we have today! And constantly remind me of the fight at hand just not to go back to those days! King or not what we have right now is much much better and our fate can only get better!

    Far as I can see it’s a fate without, wdakagara (torture houses), fate without burning tyre smells, a fate without logs in rivers (what my driver told me, instead of saying they were dead bodies floating because I was still young), fate without suicide bombs. Let me tell you I am so optimistic for the future.