Turkey’s upcoming local elections ignite election fraud debate

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PHOTO: AFP

As Turkey’s local elections slated for March 31 draw near, several reports in the Turkish media reveal peculiar numbers of registered voters in certain districts, raising concerns about possible election fraud.

Sputnik Turkish service on Monday reported the latest allegations coming from Meral Danış Beştaş and Mehmet Rüştü Tiryaki, deputies from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who claimed to have detected many addresses with an unusual number of registered voters.

The two HDP politicians cited cases such as a police residence in Iğdır with 374 registered voters although it can accommodate only 108 residents, along with several apartment buildings in other Kurdish-dominated cities in the Southeast with hundreds of, and in one particular case, over a thousand registered voters.

Beştaş further claimed that even locations that cannot legally be used as a place of residence are included as addresses for many registered voters, most of whom are law enforcement officers.

Tiryaki went on to remind of instances from the presidential and parliamentary elections of June 2018 in which unusual numbers of polling clerks allegedly cast their votes in southeastern districts, stressing that while it is their right to do so, such a widespread practice where polling clerks outnumber even the residents voting might cause a major shift in the framework of local elections.

“Our objective is not to cause anxiety but to raise awareness among voters as to election security. We intend to share with the public any incident we believe to involve election fraud,” Tiryaki said.

“They are playing with electoral registries wherever they think they stand a chance of winning,” Beştaş stressed.

Last week, the Diken news website reported another claim made by by Atilla Aytaç, the mayor of İstanbul‘s Adalar, the Princes’ Islands.

Aytaç suggested that the number of registered voters in the islands went up from 11,862 in November 2018 to 12,761 on Jan. 4, claiming that many of these voters were shifted from other districts of İstanbul dominated by the voter base of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and registered at the residences of AKP district staff in Adalar in what he claims to be the biggest election fraud in the history of the republic.

In the local elections of 2014, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) had won the post of mayor of Adalar by a narrow margin of 826 votes.

The CHP administration had also asserted that there was an unusual surge in the number of registered voters in Adalar, attributing it to what they referred to as “imaginary voters.”

“Abandoned buildings, even ruined ones seem to have voters registered in them,” Canan Kaftancıoğlu, provincial CHP chairman of İstanbul, had said.

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