Turkey’s election watchdog assures citizens on poll safety
Last year, there were concerns over widespread blackouts throughout Turkey as counting ballots for the March 30 local elections continued. AA photoAmid growing concerns over the election safety and that there could be fraud in the vote-counting process, the head of the Supreme Election Board (YSK), Sadi Güven, sought to assure citizens that there would be no problem and that the whole process would go smoothly.
“The elections will take place in safety. Our citizens should be aware of it, they should be at ease. Our parties should send their representatives to effectively control the ballot boxes,” Güven told reporters late June 2.
He also explained why the YSK printed more ballot papers than required, stressing that it was a legal necessity.
Although the YSK head stressed that the process would be implemented in full safety and that there will be a place for anybody to intervene in the vote-counting process, the ruling party appealed to the election watchdog on June 3 over concerns that "the parallel structure" would cheat in polls and put the blame on the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The term used by the AKP refers to the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, the government's erstwhile ally.
YSK rejects ruling AKP's appeal
Speaking to daily Hürriyet as he appealed to the YSK, the head of the election affairs of the AKP, Mustafa Şentop, stressed that there was speculation of potential manipulation by the Fethullah Gülen community.
Şentop expressed his concerns that the members of the parallel state could commit election fraud on June 7 to be blamed on the ruling party so as to launch a debate over the integrity of the polls. “We have seen these games in the past,” Şentop said, calling the YSK to launch an investigation over speculations.
“We will not allow this. We have very experienced polling clerks. The election crimes and sentences given to this are well known. Our clerks will use all their rights. We will not allow anybody to cheat in the polls,” he said.
On June 6, the YSK rejected the AKP's appeal which requested a limit to the number of political parties' and independent candidates' representatives at voting centers.
Universities, schools closed
In the meantime, the Supreme Education Board (YÖK) demanded all universities suspend education between June 5 and 9 so that university students can also vote. The Education Ministry announced a one-day break for primary and secondary as well as high schools on June 8 as schools will be used as the main polling stations on June 7.