The millions who did not go to the ballot box in Turkey

The millions who did not go to the ballot box in Turkey

Even if we hold the most beautiful elections in the whole world, even if we achieve the best democracy; and even if we receive a magnificent outcome that makes everybody happy, I am still in a different place at the polling station. 

The reason is that when we look at these photographs, all of us are getting smaller, we are shrinking. We are trapped in a bottleneck… 

I write this every year.

I say “Do not obstruct democracy.”

For the last three elections, I have been warning that we have to think about our senior and handicapped citizens. We have to pay special attention to them. We must not make the election process difficult for them.
This has actually become a true democracy issue for me. 

In this election, again, before I looked at the photographs coming from the news agencies, our news editor Doğaner Gönen warned me: “Fatih, we again have sad images coming from all around Turkey.”
I also took a look. We once again saw that the situation is grave. 

Here, you take a look too…

The first picture is from the Central Anatolian town of Kastamonu. A voter, Cemal Elbastı, had a traffic accident and was bound to a wheelchair. He tried to cast his vote but had to return without voting from his assigned voter center, the Abdülhak Hamit Primary School. Look at the pictures.

There are others who were carried to the ballot box in a wheelbarrow. There are others who are carried by their sons. The same or a very similar ordeal can be seen all around Turkey. 

Dear Cemal Elbastı was not able to cast his vote in these elections, though he wanted to very much. 

What kind of disgrace is this? What kind of humanitarian disgrace is this? Dear Cemal, the vote that you were not able to cast, whatever party you would have chosen, that vote is now my vote. 

Is it so difficult to solve this issue?

In the Black Sea province of Giresun, at the Kanuni Primary School, a handicapped citizen was unable to cast his vote.

In the town of Anamur in the Mediterranean province of Mersin, Necati Öz had to be carried on the back of a younger person to cast his vote.

In the Aegean city of İzmir, 80-year-old Kadriye Onar had to be carried on the backs of other voters in order to go upstairs to reach the ballot box.

In the southern province of Adana, the elevators did not worked in one of the primary schools, and some handicapped voters had to return without casting their votes.

I’m addressing the members of the Supreme Election Board: Is it so difficult to place the ballot box on the ground floor of polling stations?

There are 9.5 million handicapped people in Turkey. There are suggestions about using computers to cast votes.

There are millions of handicapped who do not go to the ballot box in order to avoid this hassle.

That’s why I say that even if we conduct the most democratic elections, one side of it still hurts; one side of it is still missing; one is side of it is still saddening.