Counting begins as voting ends in Istanbul election rerun
Millions of Istanbul residents on June 23 flocked to ballot boxes across the metropolis to elect a metropolitan municipality mayor. More than 10 million voters were eligible to take part in the elections.
The rerun local elections in Istanbul started in the early hours of June 23, as polling stations opened at 8 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m. local time.
Voters cast their votes at 31,186 ballot boxes across the city’s 39 districts.
Mobile ballot boxes also reached those unable to physically travel to polling booths.
The first results of the votes will be released after an election broadcast ban is lifted.
Ekrem İmamoğlu, the candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) who won the March 31 election before Turkey’s High Election Council (YSK) annulled the results, and Binali Yıldırım of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are the top contenders running for the post of Istanbul mayor.
There were candidates from the Felicity (Saadet) Party and the Patriotic (Vatan) Party, along with 17 independent hopefuls.
The previous local elections took place on March 31, in which over 57 million Turkish citizens cast their votes to choose metropolitan municipality and district mayors, city council members, muhtars (village heads) and members of elder councils for the next five years.
The turnout was 83.88 percent on March 31, about six percentage points lower when compared to the local elections of March 31, 2014.
In Istanbul, İmamoğlu received 48.8 percent of the votes, whereas Yıldırım got 48.55 percent, according to official figures from the YSK.
İmamoğlu on April 17 received his mandate, a certificate declaring his mayoral post, which was later revoked on May 6 after the AKP and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), appealed the results, citing irregularities and contradictions with the country’s election law.
The YSK ruled in favor of a rerun, with seven judges voting in favor and four against, saying the validity of the results were questionable.
Some 30,281 votes in 108 ballot boxes were declared invalid due to vote-counting sheets being unsigned or absent altogether, the YSK said in a statement.
It also said there were polling clerks who were not civil servants that served in 754 polling centers in the March 31 mayoral elections in Istanbul.
YSK chair Sadi Güven said all eligible voters who cast their ballots in the March 31 poll will be able to do so again in the re-do vote for Istanbul’s metropolitan mayor.
But 44,852 voters were removed from electoral lists due to convictions, military service or death since March 31.