One other winner of the elections: Vote and Beyond
There is no doubt that the biggest winner of Sunday elections is the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). As the elections results came, social media declared another winner: Vote and Beyond (Oy ve Ötesi). It is an NGO, voluntary election observation platform.
Since I was a volunteer for Oy ve Ötesi who observed the elections on election day for almost 12 hours, I can say that this is absolutely true based on my experiences.
Oy ve Ötesi is a true success story. It was formed by eight volunteers and independent young people before the March 30, 2014 elections to raise awareness for transparent and democratic elections. Actually, it can be regarded as one of the fruits of the unforgettable “Gezi Park spirit.”
I personally experienced the “solidarity” of Gezi Park on election day. I was together with very young people I had not met before, working for the safeness of the voting station.
The biggest success of Oy ve Ötesi is that it has motivated and gathered together young people who believe that some things should change in this country in the name of democracy.
Oy ve Ötesi has a very active, well-equipped and dynamic structure which closely monitors social media and uses technology cleverly. It is a platform that trusts its volunteers by giving them responsibility starting from the first moment.
In a society where the feeling of trust has been extremely damaged, this approach is truly important.
Two weeks to the elections, I registered through their website as a volunteer and since then I was “bombarded” with information on what a volunteer should do at the voting station. They have prepared videos easily understood by everybody.
Not just through the internet, they also informed volunteers by phone messages. Of course, very well thought because everybody has mobile phones but not everybody has “smart” phones.
The messages that came to my phone during election day contained information on what my constitutional rights are as a voluntary election observer, what should be done during voting, which ballots are valid, etc.
As to set an example for the political parties, it should be reviewed how this platform has managed to keep this mechanism with its volunteer at every moment.
Well, what did we do at the stations as voluntary observers? We monitored every step of the voting process against any wrongdoing. We took down the result of the count of votes and later checked it with the district election board’s protocol. We reported the results to Oy ve Ötesi.
This platform aimed at 120,000 volunteers in 45 provinces and 162 districts. I don’t know whether or not they have reached their aim. But I can say that they have doubled or tripled the number of volunteers, which was 30,000 during local elections.
In the Kınalıada School in Istanbul where I was assigned, we were four volunteers: one of them a lawyer.
In case irregularities occurred during voting, the platform engaged young lawyers.