Use technology for transparency, not for oppression

Use technology for transparency, not for oppression

The elections are over and the results are not shocking. I have written many times that I really don’t care who wins as long as everything is orderly and no one is abusing their power to oppress others’ ideas.

In some cities the votes are still being counted or recounted upon request. I joined up with “Oy ve Ötesi,” an initiative to protect the sanctity of the ballots. More than 30,000 people volunteered to be a ballot watchdog. Mine was in Kağıthane. I did not see any wrongdoing as there were five representatives from the major parties and three more volunteers like me. There were some minor power abuses at a number of ballots but they were mainly by ill-minded people who tried to vote more than once or tried to get people to vote for their party while helping people who can’t read and write.

The reason why there are so many recounts is what happens after the votes are counted and the bags of votes are sealed. In our current system, the “president” of the ballot brings the bag physically to the High Electoral Board (YSK) office under police guard. The representatives of the political parties may accompany the police car if they want to. After they reach the office, they wait for a few hours until the YSK representatives are ready to count their bag of votes. It may take until the morning.

Oy ve Ötesi and other civil initiative’s found out that there are more than 1,500 ballots whose original count and the YSK count differ. That’s how the province of Yalova was first declared for the Republican People’s Party (AKP), only to change hands after the recount. Ankara is most probably going to change hands too. There are some doubts about Istanbul, too, but a recount of Istanbul could take days.

What we have found out is that in many cities, thousands of votes for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) were “accidentally” counted as Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) votes at YSK offices. I don’t know how only CHP votes are mistaken for the HDP’s and none other, but I don’t want to put the blame on any one, as there is probably an explanation for this.

What I am more concerned is that with technology, these types of misdoings could be prevented. Why the votes are entered into the system at the YSK offices, where 99 percent of the mistakes are made, I have no idea. Why we don’t have a system that allows the votes to be entered into the system at the ballot box where there are many people to watch over the accuracy of the entry is beyond me.

Looking at the way we count votes, all I can say is that it is a specially designed system open to abuse at the YSK level. Who controls the YSK offices can control the votes if the other parties don’t have a central system that collects all the information from all the ballots. That’s exactly what Oy ve Ötesi and other initiatives aim for for the next elections. There will be one person in each classroom in which the voting takes place to collect the necessary information and store it in case the YSK makes a mistake.

So I want to call on the government to begin using technology not to oppress ideas like we do now, but to secure more transparency. In the age of civil initiatives and smart devices, it is very hard to manipulate the truth in the old ways.