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Voters will receive a poll card by post well in advance of the election day. The poll card will tell them where and when to vote.
On election day, polling stations will have been established throughout the country, usually at town halls, schools and sports centres. Returning officers are responsible for overseeing that elections are conducted according to the rules. They also count the votes afterwards.
Voters hand in their poll cards at the polling station and receive a long ballot paper listing the names of the parties and the candidates running for election. The ballot is secret and votes are cast in polling booths so that nobody can see for whom people vote. Voters can put a cross either beside the name of a person or a party.
People who do not wish to vote for any of the candidates or parties who are running for election may choose not to mark the ballot paper, thus casting a blank vote. Formally, the ballot paper is invalid and will not be included in the result. But invalid ballot papers are included in the total number of votes cast and thereby influence the size of the turnout. So unlike citizens popularly known as stay-at-home-voters who do not exercise their right to turn out and vote, some voters return a blank ballot paper to show that democracy matters to them.
An alternative to voting in person is by post. Thus, people who are unable to get to a polling station, for instance because they are not in the country or because they are hospitalised, can still vote.
Anita May Jayasinghe