The electoral system in Sri Lanka operates at three levels‐national, sub‐national, and local.
For purposes of holding elections, the country has been divided into 22 electoral districts. Of these 22, 20 are conterminous with 20 of the 25 districts into which the country has been divided for administrative purposes. One of the other two electoral districts has been formed by combining three administrative districts. The 22 electoral districts have been sub‐divided into 160 polling divisions.
Presidential and Parliamentary elections are the ones that are held nationally. Elections to Provincial Councils are held sub‐nationally while elections to Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas are conducted at local level.
Sri Lanka elects on national level a head of state ‐ the president ‐ and a legislature. The people elect the president for a five‐year term, renewable once. In Presidential elections, the entire country becomes the electorate and each voter is entitled to one vote. To be declared elected, a candidate needs to secure more than 50 per cent of the total number of valid votes cast.
The Parliament has 225 members, elected for five‐year terms. 196 members of Parliament are elected in multi‐seat constituencies through a proportional representation system where each party is allocated a number of seats from the quota for each district according to the proportion of the total vote that party obtains in the district. The other 29 constitute what is called the national list and are appointed by each party according to the island wide proportional vote the party obtains.
The rules and procedures for holding the Parliamentary Elections elections are contained in the Constitution and its enabling law – The Parliamentary Elections Act of 1981. Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Elections also issues a number of guidelines in every election.