Turkish voters in the US begin voting for June 7 elections
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
CİHAN PhotoTurkish citizens in the U.S. began voting at polling stations inside the Turkish Embassy in Washington and consulates across the country on May 16, for the upcoming June 7 elections.
Some 14,000 Turkish citizens are eligible to vote in Washington D.C., while the overall number of registered Turkish voters in the U.S. is about 90,000.
Along with the U.S. capital, Turkish citizens will be casting their votes in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Boston and Miami until May 31, 7 p.m., local time.
Turkish citizens abroad voted for the first time in foreign countries in the presidential election on Aug. 10, 2014, but an appointment system that dedicated certain hours for each voter failed to net attraction. The appointment system has since been lifted.
Parties have attached great importance to voters from abroad, making sure to meet with them in Europe during their campaigns.
Hasan Kocahan, who was the first to vote in Washington D.C., had travelled all the way from Florida, where he was registered as a voter.
“I am happy to be first in line,” Kocahan said, adding he thought there would be a long queue.
Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç called on Turkish citizens to participate in the elections by casting their vote at the nearest polling station.
“We are expecting a high number of participants,” Kılıç said.
According to Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK), an overall total of 112 polling stations would be set up for almost three million Turkish nationals living overseas.
“No one should doubt the security of the votes,” said İbrahim Uyar, the Washington representative of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
According to Uyar, the votes at the consulates and the embassy would be secured in a room with three different locks - one key to a unique lock will be given to representatives from the AKP, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The room’s door will only be able to open when all three keys are used together, he said.
Yurter Özcan, CHP’s U.S. representative, also called on Turks living in the U.S. to participate in the process and emphasized that no one should be worried about the security of the votes.
Voting has also started in the Turkish consulate in New York, where more than 34,000 eligible voters are registered from the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Turkish New York Consul General Ertan Yalçın supervised the process during the early hours of the voting.
The country’s 25th general election will elect 550 members of the Turkish Parliament, with 20 political parties taking part.
Elections in Turkey have the second-highest voter turnout among developed democracies, according to a report released by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.
More than 84 percent of the electorate went to the polls in the 2011 general election, according to the report comparing turnout rates in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member states.