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The representative form of
Government commenced in Sri Lanka more than a century
ago. In 1931, with the introduction of universal franchise
a new political enthusiasm was generated. In the absence
of a specific institution to conduct elections at that
stage, the responsibility was assigned to an existing
institution on an ad hoc basis. Accordingly, a regular
institution for the conduct of elections was not established
At about this time a Commissioner
and a Deputy were appointed to conduct Local Elections.
The Government Agents were appointed to conduct the
elections at the District Level. On this basis the FIRST
Parliamentary General Election of 1947 was conducted
by Mr. E.R. Sudbury.
Mr. P.O. Fernando and Mr. S.Amarasinghe were appointed
as Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner (Local Elections)
on October 1st, 1947. With the appointment of two clerks
to assist them, a nucleus of a separate Department could
|The very next year Seven Assistant
Elections Officers and 14 additional officers were appointed.
By this time an institutional framework had developed
at the District-Level under the direction of Mr. V.L.
Weerasinghe, as the Commissioner
On October 1st, 1955 the two departments in charge of
Parliamentary and Local Elections were amalgamated to
form a single department
Mr. A.Arulpragasam was appointed as the First Commissioner
of the combined office. He succeeded Mr. G.P.Thambyah
the Commissioner of Local Elections.
|Then Third Parliamentary General
Election of 1956 was conducted by Mr.A.Arulpragasam. On
the retirement of Mr. Arulpragasam, the then Deputy Commissioner
of Local Government Mr. E.F.Dias Abeyesinghe was appointed
on March 07th,1957 as the Commissioner of Elections. During
the tenure of Mr. Dias Abeysinghe the principle of a One
day Parliamentary General Election was introduced with
the 1960 March Election, followed by the July 1960 Elections.
The system of formal recognition of political parties,
the issue of Poll Cards, and Postal Voting for essential
services were introduced at the time. Mr. Dias Abeyesinghe
conducted the five Parliamentary General Elections in
1960 (March and June), 1965, 1970, and 1977.
retirement in 1978, the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr.
M.A. Piyasekera succeeded him on May 16th, 1978. The
1978 Constitution was introduced at this time, consequent
to which several new election laws were adopted. A new
system of Local Authorities called Development Councils
was introduced. The Elections to these new Development
Councils were held in 1981
|When Mr. Piyasekera went on
leave prior to retirement on February 1st, 1982, (retired
on 17.02.1982) Mr. L.A.G.Jayasekera was appointed as the,
acting Commissioner of Elections on 10.02.1982. In succession
to Mr. M.A.Piyasekera Mr. S.M.L. Marikkar was appointed
Commissioner of Elections on 25.03.1982 and due to his
going on leave Mr. L.A.G. Jayasekera was appointed as
acting Commissioner w.e.f. 26.03.1982. Subsequently on
May 4th 1982 with the resignation of Mr. M.A. Piyasekera,
Mr. R.K.Chandrananda de Silva assumed duties on 04.05.1982
as Commissioner of Elections. During this period new system
Elections as adopted in 1978 Constitution came into operation.
The Presidential Election and the Referendum came with
this system. The Parliamentary General Elections Act was
amended to include the system of Proportional Representation,
and later in 1988 the marking of Preferences was introduced.
These changes have made the electoral system more complicated.