Purposes of Voting

Voting is exercised in the Sri Lankan Parliament for Several Purposes:

Election of the President by Parliament

If the office of President becomes vacant prior to the expiration of the term of office, a special procedure should be followed as prescribed in Article 40 of the Constitution. At this stage, Parliament should elect one of its Members for the vacant post. Such election should be held not later than one month from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy. In such an event a secret ballot should be taken and the person should be elected by an absolute majority of votes cast. When voting commences, the Secretary-General acts as the returning officer and calls out the name of each Member including the Speaker and hands over ballot papers for them to cast their votes. The Member can mark figure 1 in the square opposite the name of the candidate for whom he votes. He can mark his preference putting figure 2,3 and so on as he wishes.

Election of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chairman of Committees

The first task of the newly appointed Parliament is electing three Presiding Officers. A special procedure is prescribed under Standing Order 4 for such election. The Speaker should be elected at the first meeting of a new Parliament or upon the occurrence of a vacancy in the post.

The procedure for the election of a Speaker is prescribed under Standing Order 4. Standing Order 4 (c) says that if only one name is proposed and seconded as Speaker the name should be declared by the Secretary General without question. But if more than one name is proposed and seconded as Speaker an election must be held. After the division bell is rung, each Member should be given a ballot paper by the Secretary General and the Members should write the name of the person for whom he is casting the vote. Ballot papers should be folded so that the name written thereon cannot be seen and should be signed by the member voting.

Thereafter, the ballot papers are collected and counted by the Secretary-General at the table of Parliament. The result should be declared by the Secretary-General. The procedure for the election of the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chairman of Committees is similar to that adopted for the election of the Speaker, the only difference being that in this instance the Speaker presides at the elections.

The Special Majority

A special procedure has to be followed for passing Constitutional Amendments, Bills inconsistent with the Constitution, Investment Treaties and Agreements. At this stage special majority (2/3) is required and it should be taken by name to ensure that the votes are specifically recorded for future reference. This special majority vote should be taken not only on the second reading but also on the third reading. Every Committee stage amendment should receive a two third majority vote.

The Casting Vote

The Speaker or the Presiding Officer is entitled for casting a vote when there is equality of votes. But when the two third majority is required, the Speaker cannot exercise the casting vote.

Twenty Voting in the Majority

The quorum of the House (20) is needed to pass certain motions. Standing Order 135 provides that any one or more Standing Orders may be suspended on a motion made after notice by a majority of Members at any meeting, only for the purpose of enabling any special business to be considered or disposed of. However, a motion under this Order unless proposed by a Minister of the Cabinet shall be decided by a division and shall be declared lost if it appears that less than twenty members voted in the majority in support of the motion.

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Last Updated on 23-04-2018

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