With irregularities at polling stations in the Turkish elections on 14 May and the subsequent objections to the results, ballot security has become one of the key issues in the run-up to the second round of the presidential election, while the results of the parliamentary election are still being disputed.
The opposition’s joint presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called on voters to not only cast their ballots but to stand at the polling stations to protect their votes at the first press conference of the second round of the election campaign on Thursday, saying “Those who love their homeland should come to the polls.”
Right after the elections, voters were outraged that a large number of pro-Kurdish Green Left Party and opposition votes had been recorded as having gone to the ruling party and its allies. After opposition parties objected to thousands of ballot boxes where vote counts were incorrectly recorded in official records, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) ruled on the appeals and is expected to announce the final results on Friday. But suspicions of electoral fraud are still growing.
Soylu had knowledge of the election results prior to the voting
Sabah columnist Mahmut Övür, who is considered to have close ties to the government, recently highlighted a statement made by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu ahead of the 14 May elections. Övür expressed surprise at Soylu’s remark before the polls, quoting him as saying, “The presidential election will end around 49.5 per cent. We tried very hard, but we couldn’t take it half a point further. Even if it looks a bit different on the ground, it seems like this will be the result. However, in parliament, we are comfortable. The People’s Alliance will have 320-325 deputies.”
The revelation that Soylu had knowledge of the election results down to fractions of a per cent prior to the voting has intensified scepticism among voters.
Alarmingly high percentages of votes cast
Serious concerns have been raised about the legitimacy of approximately 20,000 ballot boxes, involving an estimated 4.2 million voters, according to a study by the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP). These ballot boxes have drawn attention due to the alarmingly high percentages of votes cast, creating suspicions about the fairness and integrity of the electoral process.
“We say that the 14 May elections were shady and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was favoured in the parliamentary election in this rigging operation,” said Doğan Ergün, deputy chairman of the TİP in a press conference on Thursday.
The thorough examination conducted by numerous party members provided a comprehensive account of various methods of election rigging, according to Ergün. “Since the 7 June 2015 elections, which ultimately led to the snap elections on 1 November of the same year, we have been witnessing a consistent pattern of election rigging. This recurring scenario reflects a deliberate manipulation aimed at usurping the rights of the people,” he said.
The study presents the irregularities observed during the examination under six main points:
– High voting percentages: Voting percentages of around 95 per cent or more in certain ballot boxes are statistically abnormal and indicate anomalies. The implication is that such high percentages may be indicative of fraudulent activities.
The report shows that in the ballot boxes where more than 98 per cent of the votes were cast, the ruling alliance’s vote rate is close to 60 per cent, which is around 13 points more than they received on average.
– Inconsistencies between minutes and data entry: There were inconsistencies between the wet-signed minutes (official records) and the data reported by the YSK. These inconsistencies were observed mostly in Kurdish-majority provinces in relation to the Green Left Party and were seen in various provinces by other opposition parties as well.
– Control by ruling parties with state resources: In many polling stations, ruling parties and state resources were used to exert full control. This control included determining who could vote and how, and even voting on behalf of individuals who were unable to vote.
– Voting with a voter registration certificate and casting more than one vote: Some irregularities involved the practice of voting with a voter registration certificate. Voters whose names are not on the voter list cast their ballots in a place other than where they are supposed to vote, resulting in votes on the voter lists that appear to have not actually been cast. And the unused votes were allegedly cast by polling officials from the ruling party in polling stations where there were no opposition observers.
– Ballot boxes with inflated voter turnout: The report highlights the existence of ballot boxes where the voter turnout exceeded 100 per cent, suggesting that this was achieved through the involvement of police officers, officials, and civil servants who voted using their duty papers. According to Ergün, in some areas, voter turnout was 700 per cent because of this.
– Favouring the MHP in the parliamentary election: According to the report, the ruling party’s far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was allegedly favoured in the rigging operation for the parliamentary election. Although results were obtained in favour of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential election, irregularities were specifically observed in favour of the MHP in the parliamentary elections.