In terms of Article 4 (a) of the Constitution, being the supreme law of the Republic, the legislative power of the people is exercised by Parliament which consists of the elected representatives. Hence, the basic provisions with regard to the electoral system are contained in the Constitution itself.
The provisions with regard to the franchise and elections are contained in Chapter XIV of the Constitution.
The franchise, or right to vote, at an election is contained in a negative formulation in the provisions of the Constitution. Accordingly, Article 88 stipulates that every person unless disqualified by the specific provisions in the Constitution, shall be qualified to be an elector or voter. However, it is further provided that the exercise of the right itself is dependent on the name of such person being entered in the appropriate register of electors. The preparation of the register of electors is contained in the Registration of Electors Act, which provides inter alia, for annual revision of each register, for publication of the register and for any objection to any person being registered.
Article 89 of the Constitution contains the following disqualifications to being registered as an elector or voter. They are:
- Not being a citizen of Sri Lanka
- Not having attained the age of 18 years on the qualifying date for registration as specified in the Registration of Electors Act
- A person of unsound mind so declared in terms of the applicable law
- If during a period of seven years preceding the date of registration, such person has served a sentence of not less than six months imprisonment for an offence punishable with imprisonment for not less than two years
- If such person has within a period of seven years of the date of registration, being convicted for any election offence in respect of election to Parliament, for the office of President or any Referendum
- If any person is convicted or found guilty of any corrupt practice under any such law as specified in (e) above or convicted or found guilty of an offence of bribery
- If within a period of five years immediately preceding, such person has been convicted of an offence under any of the specified provisions of the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance
- If within a period of three years immediately preceding, a person has been found guilty of having committed an illegal practice under any other laws as specified in (e) above
- If a civic disability has been imposed in terms of the Constitution on the basis of a finding of a special Presidential Commission of Inquiry