Relocations of polling stations in Turkey
The statements of Bitlis Governor Ahmet Çınar of Turkey’s east was on papers Sept. 22. In order to provide voting security, to avoid possible troubles in the transfer of ballot boxes and for the national will to be reflected in the ballot box, he has asked the Provincial Election Board whether certain polling stations can be relocated at certain provincial and district centers.
Because it covers more than one province, it will be up to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to decide on this matter. Before the YSK makes its decision, I want to express my opinion as a citizen.
1) Governors do not have a right to object to, submit complaints and ask for information from election boards. All administrative officers should apply to their own ministries. Election affairs should especially not be subject to different practices in different provinces.
2) The Bitlis Governor’s efforts based on abrupt speeches of top authorities contradict our state’s more than 60-year-old election law.
3) The basic principle of election law is that all election operations are carried out according to the written principles and methods of election law. Documents, minutes, ballot papers, lists, assistance, taking breaks and determining the location of the voting station cannot be added to the law “because it is necessary.”
4) In elections, each neighborhood is an electoral district. Each electoral district is divided into voting station areas. For each voting station, there is a polling station committee.
5) Ballot boxes cannot be located outside the area it belongs. Committees cannot fulfill their duties outside their own regions, counting is done openly there and without hanging the toll (protocol) at the polling station, their duty is not completed.
6) If there is a security situation at the polling center, the committee should write it down and decide. This decision is open to the objection of committee members and voters. For the district election committee to assume beforehand that such a situation will occur is not in the law.
7) If committees cannot fulfill their duties on election day, decisions are made on that day depending on the incident and the situation. While there is more than one month until the Election Day, relocation of polling stations on grounds of election security is unacceptable.
8) Public order and voting order within the polling stations are two different situations. If an eight-day long curfew is needed to provide public order in a town, then the government is not able to provide public order in that district.
9) Where will the 34,000 voters of three neighborhoods of Cizre (Cudi, Sur and Nur) be moved and where will they vote? Including the children dependent on their mothers, the number of people to be transported is around 50,000. Will 1,000 buses transport people to and from? With what order? How? What about food, drink and health issues? Which party would accept such voting?
10) Like a chat in a neighborhood coffee house, the polling station relocation idea is a very “raw” one. There is also the rumor of only relocating those polling stations where the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has won all the votes.
11) In Cizre, where there are 62,000 valid votes, the percentage of votes the HDP has won in those three neighborhoods is 96 percent. In other Cizre neighborhoods and villages, this rate is 88 percent. If relocation is done and voters are transported, HDP votes will go down from 57,000 to 54,000, at the most 50,000.
Baseless solutions decrease the confidence on the state; I hope election boards make cautionary decisions.