‘Relocated ballot boxes’ to affect 144,000 voters in Turkey’s election

‘Relocated ballot boxes’ to affect 144,000 voters in Turkey’s election

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
‘Relocated ballot boxes’ to affect 144,000 voters in Turkey’s election

The controversial relocation of ballot boxes will affect a total of 144,000 voters in the June 24 snap elections, Supreme Election Board (YSK) chairman Sadi Güven stated on May 28.

A contentious 26-article law that was approved by a majority vote led by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in parliament on March 13 allows the relocation of ballot boxes for “security reasons,” while constituencies will be able to be “merged” by the authorities.

Güven said the YSK received “requests” from 19 provincial governors’ offices regarding the relocation and the board examined these requests one by one to make a decision.

“This is not the first time the YSK has received such requests. Ballot boxes have been relocated before. In the past, district election boards ruled for relocation when deemed necessary,” he added, noting that the YSK takes into account several criteria when it orders a relocation.

“The first criterion is election security. When governors and the head of district election boards believe that the relocation of ballot boxes is necessary to ensure election security then they appeal to the YSK. We have received such requests from 19 provinces and examine the situation in each ballot box,” Güven said.

Most of the provinces affected are critical Kurdish-majority provinces where the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is strong. Güven stressed that not all ballot boxes in these 19 provinces will be relocated, but only certain ballot boxes.

“Election security is important. But equally important is the fact that voters will be able to cast their votes with their free will. We at the YSK very carefully studied the requests for relocation. One criterion was that the maximum distance the electorates need to walk to cast their votes should be now longer than 5 kilometers. Half of the ballot boxes that will be relocated are just 2.5 kilometers away from the original location. Therefore 73,500 eligible voters will cast their votes in ballot boxes that will be moved a distance of 2.5 kilometers,” Güven said.

Some 59.4 million people, including 56.3 million at home and nearly 3.05 million abroad, will be eligible to vote in the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections. Some 1.65 million people will be eligible to vote for the first time.

Turnout was 85.46 in the controversial April 2017 referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system, which was marred by voting irregularities. According to official results, 51.3 percent of Turkish voters said “yes” to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) constitutional amendment package.

In the June 2016 and November 2016 parliamentary elections, turnout rates were 83.3 percent and 87.6 percent respectively.