Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has acquiesced to an objection filed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to its recent move to reduce the number of days citizens are allowed to cast votes in countries where the opposition’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu led President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by a wide margin in the presidential election on May 14.
Election officials announced on Monday that Turkey’s presidential election would be decided in a runoff on May 28 since neither Kılıçdaroğlu nor Erdoğan was able to secure 50 percent of the vote plus one additional vote needed for election to president in the first round.
According to the unofficial results, Erdoğan received 49.51 percent of the vote, while Kılıçdaroğlu garnered 44.88 percent.
CHP Deputy Chairman Muharrem Erkek on Tuesday announced in a tweet that the YSK had acquiesced to their objection to the reduction of voting days in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom, adding that Turks in these countries will be able to cast their votes from May 20 to May 24.
CHP olarak YSK’ya yaptığımız başvurumuz kabul edildi.
ABD, Kanada, Avustralya, İrlanda ve İngiltere'de 20-24 Mayıs günlerinde seçmenler oylarını kullanabilecekler.
— Muharrem Erkek 🇹🇷 (@MuharremErkek17) May 16, 2023
The CHP’s appeal came after many expatriates raised the issue on social media, saying the YSK had restricted voting days to two in countries where Kılıçdaroğlu received 79 or 80 percent of the vote and where Erdoğan only garnered between 16 and 18 percent, while the voting period remained four or five days in other countries where Turks favored Erdoğan over his rival.
“They have reduced the voting period for the second round from four days to two, as 80 percent of voters in the United States favored Kılıçdaroğlu,” Turkish journalist Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and Global Opinions columnist at The Washington Post, said in a tweet.
ABD’deki seçmen %80 Kılıçdaroğlu’na verdiği için, koskoca ülkede 2. tur için oy vermeyi 4 günden 2ye indirmişler. pic.twitter.com/oImcMqdslQ
— asli aydintasbas (@asliaydintasbas) May 16, 2023
Professor Emre Kongar also quoted a Turkish expatriate as saying that they only have May 20 and 21 to vote in the runoff in the US and Canada due to the YSK’s decision aimed at “hindering” high voter turnout in those countries.
Bir mesaj ve bir belge:
“Sayin Emre Hocam, dun aksam sizi 18 dakika programinizda dinledim, biraz olsun moralimiz duzeldi. Amerika ve Kanada’da bizlere oy vermemizi engellemek icin sadece 2 gun oy verme suresi tanidilar. 20 ve 21 Mayis.”https://t.co/aLzrMn1z7V pic.twitter.com/8zx1Glh3Ve
— Emre Kongar (@emrkongar) May 16, 2023
“Turkish voters in the US are being told they get 2 days to vote in the second round. US Turks voted 80 percent for Kılıçdaroğlu. Other opposition-voting countries also reportedly have the same restriction. AKP voting countries get 5 days. That is not a fair playing field at all,” Twitter user Can Okar said, adding that the reduction in voting days was “a pretty clear example of voter suppression.”
Turkish voters in the US being told they get 2 days to vote in the second round. US Turks voted 80% for Kılıçdaroğlu.
Other opposition-voting countries also reportedly have the same restriction.
AKP voting countries get 5 days.
That is not a fair playing field at all. https://t.co/CdB7r6Eq2j
— Can Okar (@canokar) May 16, 2023
Hümeyra Pamuk, a senior foreign policy reporter for Reuters based in Washington, said the YSK decision was “peculiar” since it could directly impact voting behavior in a large country like the US.
“There were people who traveled for hours from city to city to vote in the first round. How will this journey be accommodated within just two days?” Pamuk added.
Özellikle ABD gibi mesafelerin uzak olduğu bir ülkede oy verme davranışını doğrudan etkileyebilecek, tuhaf bir karar. Birinci turda oy vermek için şehirden şehire saatlerce yol yapan insanlar var. İki güne nasıl sığdırılacak bu yolculuk? Mantıklı bir açıklama gören var mı? https://t.co/F9Su84kJOr
— Hümeyra Pamuk (@humeyra_pamuk) May 15, 2023
Election security has been a significant concern in Turkey, with various issues arising during past elections. One of the main concerns involves the potential political interference in the operations of the YSK and the state-run Anadolu news agency, which could affect the fairness and transparency of elections as well as the announcement of results.