Turkey's election watchdog denies claims over ghost voters for local polls
The head of Turkey’s election watchdog has denied allegations that hundreds of thousands of ghost voters were registered for the upcoming local polls, while informing that the registrations of more than 55,000 voters have been frozen because of changes in constituencies.
“The double registration of a Turkish citizen into the election system is out question. There are no fake, ghost or twice-registered electorates,” Sadi Güven, the head of the Supreme Election Board (YSK), told Anadolu Agency on Jan. 22 when asked about allegations that hundreds of thousands of electorates were registered more than once on ballot lists.
Güven said the number of electorates exceeded 57 million for the local polls to be held on March 31 and that preparations were almost completed for a safe and unmarred election.
But opposition parties have been claiming that scores of discrepancies were detected on the registration process of voters, which included centenarian persons, including one aged 165, and multiple voters registered in a single address in certain constituencies.
The YSK head stressed that an updated list of citizens over the age of 18 has been recently received from the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality which founded the basis of the renewed list of electorates.
Turkey’s system does not allow double-registration of any citizen, Güven reiterated, adding that fraud in registering the voters “is out of question.”
However, due to the nature of local elections, the transfer of citizens from larger cities to local municipalities is a practice that has been observed in past polls, he stated, explaining that family members and relatives of a local candidate tend to change their constituencies to support their kin.
“Let me give you an example. The number of frozen registration of electorates was only 736 in the June 2018 parliamentary elections. This figure for the local polls is 56,495. We are seriously sensitive on this and we are doing our best to let our electorates vote at their real address. This is what the law says,” he said.
6,000 electorates over age 100 removed from lists
One other claim was suggesting that there were so many voters who were still on voters’ list although many of them were already dead.
Güven informed that the YSK launched an investigation over the 6,000 people who were above the age of 100 in a list provided by the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality before the New Year and dropped them from voters’ list as a result of the probe.
“But after Jan. 1 new lists have been provided and we have been notified about 165 persons over the age of 100. We have learned that seven of them were alive and we have omitted the rest from our list,” he said.
On claims that Syrian refugees would also vote in the elections, Güven categorically ruled it out, stressing that only Turkish nationals can vote in the polls. “Those who were granted Turkish nationality can vote in the elections and that has nothing to do with us,” he stated.