Election board starts works for looming polls despite disaster

Election board starts works for looming polls despite disaster

Election board starts works for looming polls despite disaster

The Supreme Election Board (YSK) has already launched works for creating essential ground for voting in the earthquake-hit regions and for the quake survivors who have been displaced in the aftermath of the disaster, the daily Hürriyet reported on Feb. 24.

Türkiye will go to simultaneous presidential and parliamentary polls latest on June 18 but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had earlier suggested May 14 as the best day for holding the elections due to national university exams in June.

However, the devastating earthquakes of Feb. 6 that killed more than 40,000 people and destroyed 11 provinces in southern Anatolia caused questions about the practicability of the polls, although the constitution obliges they be held on time except during war.

The reports suggested that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) stick to earlier plans for holding the polls this spring, either in May or June.

Accordingly, the YSK has begun working on how to hold the polls in the earthquake-hit regions and held some meetings to this end, the Hürriyet reported. The election watchdog is considering merging collapsed districts under a single constituency and electoral lists can be re-organized with the help of the civil registry offices in that constituency.

“For example, the list can outline the persons sheltered in a certain tent city in Hatay. The list will refer to the old addresses of these persons [to avoid confusion]. As this vote will elect only the deputies and not local authorities, it is not very important where they vote, because they vote for Hatay [representation at the Parliament],” some officials from the ruling AKP told the Hürriyet.

In addition, the authorities are thinking how to facilitate change of address for those who left their hometowns so that they can vote in their new constituencies. A written application by the earthquake survivors will be sufficient for changing their addresses and therefore being listed as an electorate in his or her new location.

For those who lost their identification card, the civil registry authorities have already started to work with AFAD, the disaster and emergency agency, to issue new cards for those who are being sheltered in the tents and containers.

Those who are now sheltering in the state guest houses, university dormitories and hotels will also be able to vote in the next elections, the authorities said.

Bozdağ: No need for a new Election Law

In the meantime, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, in an interview with the CNNTürk late on Feb. 23, recalled that the existing laws on the elections are very clear and there is no need for a new legislation.

“Our laws tell who will vote where in an open way. There is no need for a new bill. There are resolutions of the YSK in the past. Everyone will cast his or her vote where they are registered,” Bozdağ stated.

It will be up to the YSK where to set up the voting stations in the earthquake-hit regions, the minister stressed.

In case the government wants to hold the polls on May 14, President Erdoğan has to issue a decree on the date of the polls at the latest on March 10.