Guarding the ballot box

Guarding the ballot box

As happens before every election and referendum, a question I frequently come across is about whether the vote will be rigged. Each time I have the same answer: If you guard the voting station, nobody can cheat.
Political parties have the right to assign observers at polling stations. But it is also the right of every citizen to protect and guard each ballot box. Even if they are not members of the voting station committee, any citizen can monitor voting stations during the vote count. 

If observers do their jobs properly and check for the correct vote count and the correct writing of figures in the protocol, then a major part of the job is done. After this, the correct tabulation of results in protocols and their correct entry into the system should be monitored. 

In recent elections the “Oy ve Ötesi” (Vote and Beyond) group has assisted party observers during counting of the votes, with up to 150,000 volunteers across the country. 

In the April 16 referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system, volunteers and political party observers will again monitor the ballot boxes. 

Of course, doors are open to new volunteers. Vote and Beyond will be conducting voter and voting station observer trainings over the internet until the day of the referendum. 

On voting day, in cooperation with the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, all observers and members of voting station committees will be provided with support. 

For monitoring of the Computer Supported Central Voter Registry System (SEÇSİS) there will be a protocol confirmation system operated on the day of the referendum. When the counting is finished, more than a 1,000 volunteers will check and confirm all protocols and their correct entry into the system. 

Vote and Beyond is not a political or partisan organization. It is open to everybody with democratic values and it welcomes voluntary observers of all political views. 

The presidential advisor knows, but… 

İbrahim Kalın, the spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was quoted by Hürriyet columnist Taha Akyol the other day. 

“Reducing complicated issues to one cause and stigmatizing a group of people may bring short-term political gains, but it does not offer long-term solutions,” Kalın said.

I have never met him personally but as far as I know Kalın is a hardworking academic. It is good that such a person is working in the presidential palace in Ankara. 

According to the government, for a long time there is only one cause of Turkey’s troubles: The “superior mind” (üst akıl). This dark foreign mastermind is responsible for everything bad that happens. 

When the Turkish Lira loses value, when unemployment soars, when terrorists explode bombs, when Gülenists attempt a military coup, when our Syrian policy collapses, this “superior mind” is apparently responsible for everything.

Most of the time there are many complicated causes behind all of these issues. But those who rule Turkey always try to tackle situations, as Kalın said, by “minimizing complicated issues to just one cause.”

Stigmatizing people is an added bonus: The two go in parallel. 

Whenever issues are not diagnosed correctly, they only become more complicated and more difficult to solve.

The continuation of such thinking policy may end up bringing down the government in the long run, but let’s not forget that we all live together in this country. 

Governments come and go, but we all pay the price when the issues that the country faces get heavier. I wish there were some who listened to Kalın at the palace…