Fact-Checking Turkey gathers top five misrepresentations of the provisions in the latest amendment
On 13 March 2018, Turkey’s parliament passed a legislation package which involves amendments about the election system of the country. As Fact-Checking Turkey, we gathered the top five frequently voiced false claims about the new election bill.
Claim 1: People who live in the same building will be able to vote in different areas. This will obstruct the control of the ballot boxes.
This provision was added to the package in order to ensure the anonymity of the votes casted to different political parties. In this way, it would be impossible to determine who voted for which party in the same building. Therefore, voters in the same building will not be subject to coercion.
Claim 2: Moving the ballot box will put the voters’ will under pressure.
The legislation package enables to move the ballot boxes to larger voting centers. It is claimed that the voters from rural areas will be pressured regarding their choices in these centers by the security officers. On the contrary, the will of the voters is guaranteed this way. The PKK, a designated terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, has been threatening the villagers in the southeastern regions of Turkey to cast their vote for a particular political party. In order to prevent the PKK’s threats, the ballot boxes will be moved to a center in which ballots from numerous villages will be counted, therefore the anonymity of the votes will be guaranteed.
Claim 3: The security of the ballot boxes will be impacted with the moving of ballot boxes for elderly voters.
The legislation package sets forth to form special ballot boxes for the elderly people who have difficulty to move. It is claimed that this practice will endanger to ensure the security of the ballot box. However, balloting committees will be formed for the ballot boxes of the elderly people just as the other ballot boxes. Like the other ballot boxes, the representatives and observers from all political parties will be present and will accompany these ballot boxes. Also, the vehicle of the ballot box will be followed by law enforcement officers.
Claim 4: The control mechanisms of the political parties will be weakened due to choosing the chair of the balloting committee among public servants.
This amendment does not change the current system regarding the role of public servants in balloting committees. In the current system, district election boards are chaired by local judges who are also public servants. In any case, the representatives of the all political parties participating in the elections will be present to preside over the ballot boxes.
Claim 5: Admission of unstamped ballots will endanger the election’s security.
The balloting committee officials’ stamp was a requirement subject to controversies as some balloting committee members “inadvertently” did not seal the ballots which led to invalidity of some votes casted by the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey , which is an independent government public institution overseeing the political elections in Turkey. In addition to the balloting committee officials’ stamp, there is also the official seal of the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey.
The amendment abolishes the requirement of the balloting officials’ stamp. However, the ballot box officials’ stamp was just a further security measure against the fake ballots. In addition to the balloting committee officials’ stamp, there is also the official seal of the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey on the ballot envelopes, stamped before the distribution of the envelopes to the voting centers.