If Sri Lanka’s government moves a special parliamentary bill to empower Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in South Indian in the coming weeks, over 50,000 refugees of Sri Lankan origin will be able to vote at the forthcoming parliamentary election. Officials at Sri Lanka’s Election Commission have signalled that the vote can be facilitated if Sri Lanka, together with the Indian administration, prioritize the creation of legal structures for overseas voting. “Many other countries have their expatriates voting, from their current location. Sri Lanka can also take that route,” said Additional Election Commissioner M. M. Mohamed.
The move would grant Sri Lankan refugees voting rights for the first time since they began leaving the island in 1983, in three waves, following the breakout of war in the island’s north and east.
According to the Elections Department, present law does not provide for the inclusion of their names in the voters’ registry but official have said a quick amendment could restore this right.
There are over 90,000 Sri Lankans scattered through south India, largely in Tamil Nadu state, but also in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh as well.