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Turkey’s 32 Brave Academicians: Referendum Results are illegitimate

Thirty two academicians from several universities including some of most respected ones such as Boğaziçi, ODTÜ, Mimar Sinan and Istanbul Technical University created a commission to study on tainted April 16th referendum results.

This means in lawlessness environment such as current Turkey which has been under the state of emergency nearly a year, dozens of respected academicians are ready to risk their careers just to be able accurately to note the truths behind the referendum results.

There are three main results came from the commission:

  • Taking regular notes about data collection process and recording of unusual situations are essential in order to ensure that data collection on any given subject is healthy. However, the ballot report form used in the referendum has been amended shortly before the vote so that it could not be used to determine extreme cases thoroughly. On the 10 August 2014 presidential election, June 7 and November 1, 2015 parliamentary elections, there were a number of spaces in the ballot report forms where you could enter information, such as the total number of envelopes and ballots received from the county election board, the number of unused envelopes and ballots, how many invalid envelopes were opened from the ballot boxes and why they were invalid, how many invalid ballots were opened and why they were invalid. However, there were no spaces where the total number of envelopes and ballots could be entered in the ballot report forms of the constitutional amendment referendum on April 16, 2017. There were spaces for only valid and invalid ballots. It is not known why the invalid votes are recorded as invalid (e.g. missing seal, empty ballot, seal on multiple areas). Because there was no space available to write reasons for invalidation.
  • After the data are collected, it is necessary to perform a quality check and sort out the invalid data in a systematic manner, in particular as independent of the data content. The definition of invalidity must be applied objectively and equally to all data. However, there has been no systematic invalidity test in the referendum. The definition of invalidity applied differently to abroad ballot boxes, domestic ballot boxes that opened 1 hour early and domestic ballot boxes that opened 1 hour late. Unsealed votes have been recorded as invalid in the ballots from abroad and eastern provinces. However, unsealed votes have been accepted as valid in the ballots opened after 17.00 illegally. Moreover, since there is no information about how many ballots are invalid, it has become impossible to enforce a new count based on the ballot form records and to eliminate invalid votes according to their invalidation type.
  • Once the data collection process is complete, analysis of the data should be done in conjunction with error checking. The results should only be explained after that. However, the results were announced before the data analysis was done meticulously in the referendum. Because the mistakes and reasons for them have not been investigated, the appeals to follow the mistakes have been rejected hastily without being discussed one by one.

The Commission is summarizing as follows:

“The three misapplication mentioned above, when added in succession, corrupted the process as impossible to rectify. Hence;

  • The reality of the numbers announced after the referendum can not be proven.
  • It is meaningless to redo the count through the existing ballots.
  • No judgment can be derived from this referendum about the rates of the voters that approve the constitutional amendment unless a new referendum is held.”

The commission ended its words as follows: “We observe that the uncertainty of the situation after the referendum is not reflected to the public with this clarity. We inform the public that it is scientifically impossible to say that the result of the referendum announced by the Supreme Election Council (YSK) reflects the true will of the people.”

Thus, there is also a scientific shadow on the legitimacy of the result of 16 April referendum.

Name of the academicians:

Prof. Dr. Kuban Altınel, Boğaziçi University, Prof. Dr. Özgür Aydın, Ankara University Prof. Dr. Aydan Balamir, Orta Doğu Teknik University Prof. Dr. Yaman Barlas, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Neş’e Bilgin, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Ş. İlker Birbil, Sabancı University Prof. Dr. Selçuk Candansayar, Gazi Üniversitesi Prof. Dr. Kerem Cankoçak, İstanbul Teknik University Y. Doç. Dr. Arif Çağlar, Mimar Sinan University Dr. Çiçek Çavdar, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Doç. Dr. Birten Çelik, Orta Doğu Teknik University Prof. Dr. Nüzhet Dalfes, İstanbul Teknik University Prof. Dr. Ersan Demiralp, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Doç. Dr. Can Denizman, Valdosta State University Prof. Dr. Dilek Doltaş, Boğaziçi University Doç. Dr. Ahmet Ersoy, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Prof. Dr, Ayşe Erzan, İstanbul Teknik University Y. Doç. Dr. Didem Gökçay, Orta Doğu Teknik University Prof. Dr. Aslı Göksel, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Mayda Gürsel, Orta Doğu Teknik University Prof. Dr. Mahmut Hortaçsu, Mimar Sinan University Prof. Dr. Ali Rıza Kaylan, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Berna Kılınç, Boğaziçi University Y. Doç. Dr. Esra Mungan, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Muhittin Mungan, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Gülay Özcengiz, Orta Doğu Teknik University Prof. Dr. Hüseyin Atila Özgener, İstanbul Teknik University Prof. Dr. Lerzan Özkale, İstanbul Teknik University Prof. Dr. A. Sumru Özsoy, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Cem Say, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Alpar Sevgen, Boğaziçi University Prof. Dr. Ünal Zenginobuz, Boğaziçi University

Translated by Osman Bilgin from Yavuz Baydar’s post-on PRIZMA

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