Be a part of the process, don’t just watch
The Gezi Park movement was full of all colors, not the mono-color they want to paint Turkey with; it was a movement where people who wanted some things to be changed moved together without questioning and judging who was who.
“Oy ve Ötesi” (Vote and Beyond) stemmed from Gezi and is made up of such people. They are people who say, “There is some trouble related to voting and counting. Never mind who I am or who I support. Come; let us solve this trouble together.”
These people are the antithesis of the situation where a political party is dominant and there are concerns that this political party would rule the polling stations. These people are the ones who see that some things are wrong in the country; they want to do something about this and are never a part of a political ideology.
Vote and Beyond is sending voluntary election observers to voting stations in 45 provinces and 170 districts. At the end of the day of the election, they will check the accuracy of the protocols with the system.
In the last elections they checked the protocols of nearly 130,000 voting stations. They warned the parties in problematic ones.
They are impartial. There were cases when they told the Justice and Development Party (AKP), “Your rights have been violated here. We have the protocol. You can start the objection process.”
Before Vote and Beyond, there used to be bags of votes and ballot boxes found here and there; there would be burnt ballots.
Now, those who think about cheating at the polling station see there are people present there who say: “I am here. I am monitoring you. I know the rules. If you violate them I will catch you. We have lawyers. I will object. If you cheat in the system I will see that also.”
The head of a voting station who changed the protocol in favor of the AKP in a previous election was caught. He was tried and sentenced to four and a half years.
If this is not deterrent, then what is?
They started in Istanbul, now they are in Batman, Diyarbakır, Çorum, Elazığ, Konya and Trabzon. They have a lesser presence in the southeast and Central Anatolia. Urfa and Mardin have few volunteers, for instance.
In the past two years, 120,000 people have volunteered to be a part of Vote and Beyond. Some critics say there are no headscarf-wearers or Islamic beard-growers, that these volunteers should all be jailed. This irrational, ugly perception operation for 120,000 individuals is beyond being funny.
When there were 12 days to the June 7 elections, Vote and Beyond had 23,000 volunteers. They reached 55,000 volunteers at the end. Now, with 12 days left to the election, they have 42,000 volunteers. They feel like they can reach 75,000 to 80,000 people.
Only one-third of those who volunteered at Vote and Beyond before are reapplying. The remaining two-thirds have different reasons. Some of them have become party observers. Some of them are fed up.
Terror and unlawfulness walk hand-in-hand in this country to create a feeling of exhaustion and hopelessness. People say, “We have tried, nothing will happen in this country.” When people become passive and hopeless, then those who have caused this situation are free to do anything. If we want to live here, if we want to live the way we want to, we do not have the luxury to say “We are fed up.”
Writing satire and criticisms all day long on Twitter and Facebook; talking big at dinner tables; waiting for some things to be corrected; we have a way past this stage.
If we want this country to be better, then we need to get up from our armchairs and do something. Vote and Beyond has the recipe for this regarding voting stations.
Instead of complaining tomorrow, go and volunteer, then you do not have to complain or regret. Do not just watch the process, be a part of it.
The deadline is Friday, hurry up.