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“No and Beyond” Initiative: Referendum Overshadowed by Sweeping Irregularities

The “No and Beyond” initiative – a civil society watchdog formed to monitor the Turkish referendum – unveiled its report on voting irregularities, Turkish news portal Diken reported. The report highlights that in some instances the dead voters cast ballots and in some regions, the percentage of “Yes” votes reached up to 95 percent.

Members of the initiative held a press conference to share their findings on the referendum. Doğan Ergün – a senior member of the “No and Beyond” – noted during the press briefing: “Ballot box reports with wet signatures were uploaded to our system by our volunteers. We investigated these reports thoroughly and compared to the those of Supreme Board of Election (YSK). We came to the conclusion that significant irregularities took place during the referendum.”

He continued: “According to YSK data, in 961 ballot boxes %100 of the votes were for “Yes, ” and every registered voter cast their votes in %30 of these all-yes-voted boxes. These figures are telling a dubious story.”

Ergün reminded Fetullah Gülen’s words for 2010 referendum which suggested in a supportive and hyperbolic tone “Even the dead should stand up and vote for yes.” Former allies President Erdogan and self-exiled Muslim cleric Gulen fell into a bitter feud and parted ways since 2013.

Ergün listed the other irregularities they observed as follows:

– In 7,048 ballot boxes, casted votes are equal to the total number of eligible voters or more than the number of registered voters including the ballot box officials.

– A total of 1, 672,294 votes were cast in the boxes mentioned above and ratio for “Yes” is 60.7 percent. It is practically impossible that none of these 1,672,294 electors passed away or military service since the last voter census; March 10, 2102.

– We had determined an instance where one citizen died on March 31, 2017, and was registered to box number 2179 (Şanlıurfa, Eyyübüye) however according to the report, 2179 box turnout rate was %100 percent.

Did the HDP and CHP supporters evaporate?

Ergün voiced their suspicion of the regions where 95 percent of “Yes” votes came out of the boxes. He said HDP and CHP have had a non-ignorable share of votes in previous elections in these regions. He gave the example of Konur village of Şemdinli County, on June 7, 2015, elections HDP+CHP had received 442 and November 1, 2015, elections they won 263, but in this referendum, they were only able to get 16 votes. He asked: “What happened to previous voters? Did they evaporate suddenly?”

Referendum should be nullified and renewed

Lawyer Damla Atalay took the floor after Ergun and criticized YSK’s ruling that instructed ballot box commissions to count the unstamped ballots as valid although the Act on Electoral Activities openly stipulates the opposite. She said “ YSK’s decision is null and void because Article 98 and 101 of the Act on Electoral Actives are very clear. YSK’s ruling that goes against the provisions of the Act constitutes a scandal in the history of Turkish justice. The principle of “Procedure precedes over substance” is the central pillar of Turkish judicial system and validating unstamped ballots cast a heavy shadow on the legitimacy of the referendum. YSK is undoubtedly aware of this reality.”

Background

Turkish Supreme Electoral Council (YSK)’s decision to validate the unstamped votes led to a dispute and opposition parties appealed YSK to annul the referendum. YSK turned down the opposition’s request with 10 members in favor and 1 against.

After YSK’s verdict President Erdoğan declared “YSK’s decision is final. This is over.”

On April 21 CHP appealed to Danıştay (Council of State), and Danıştay rejected the petition on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

YSK is expected to announce official outcome very soon.

Translation Bulent Korkmaz

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