Istanbul, Turkey – Turkey’s opposition parties reported thousands of discrepancies and irregularities in the presidential and parliamentary election ballot, casting a shadow over the polls that took place on Sunday.
The Cumhuriyet Halk (Republican People’s Party, CHP) and the Yeşil Sol Party (Green Left Party, YSP) have expressed concerns and filed complaints since Sunday about the discrepancies between the recorded numbers produced by the polls. station and the votes entered into the Supreme Election Council’s ( YSK) system.
On Wednesday, Muharrem Erkek, the deputy chair of the CHP, said that irregularities were found by the party in 7,094 ballot boxes after checking more than 201,000 from inside Turkey and abroad.
About 4,825 of the CHP’s objections were in the parliamentary votes and 2,269 in the presidential election.
Turkey’s presidential election is headed for a run-off on May 28 after neither incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan, nor CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu won an outright 50 percent majority on Sunday.
Erdogan led the polls with 49.5 percent of the vote and Kilicdaroglu got 44.89 percent.
Erkek said the votes for Kilicdaroglu were wrongly allocated to Muharrem Ince who withdrew from the presidential race three days before the election, not allowing enough time to print new papers in ballot without his name.
Speaking to journalists in Ankara on Wednesday, Erkek said that additional votes were also given to Erdogan, without providing any evidence.
“We follow every single vote, even if it doesn’t change the overall result,” Erkek said.
In the parliamentary polls, Erdogan’s Adalet ve Kalkınma Party (Justice and Development Party, AK Party) took the most votes.
The Milliyetçi Hareket Party (Nationalist Movement Party, MHP), the alliance party of the AK Party, exceeded expectations with more than 10 percent of the vote share.
The YSP, which has fielded parliamentary candidates from the pro-Kurdish Halkların Demokratik Party (Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP) because of a legal shutdown threat against the latter, said it had discovered more than 1,000 in case of incorrect entries.
“We have no evidence to say if there is an organized malignancy behind these errors and mistakes or if someone is deliberately trying to influence these results,” YSP election spokesman Mehmet Rustu Tiryaki said last Tuesday.
The party is backing Kilicdaroglu, who leads an alliance of six parties, for the presidency.
The electoral authority is due to publish its data on Friday. However, it shares information on votes with political parties.
The CHP told voters to check data published on the YSK website against freely available polling station records. That has led to people posting differences on social media, including instances in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast where HDP/YSP votes seem to have shifted to the MHP.
Although Turkish election campaigns have been criticized for allowing the ruling party an unfair advantage in its use of state resources, media control and legal intimidation of opponents, the actual vote itself is considered which is more secure.
YSK President Ahmet Yener, however, condemned the claims made online as “baseless” and “intended to mislead the public”, adding that the organization’s system is “transparent”.
Roman Udot, co-chair of Golos, a Russian election data monitoring watchdog now based in Lithuania, said a study of YSK data on previous Turkish elections revealed “strange things”.
“We found 3,500 polling stations where the turnout was more than 100 percent, more than 800 percent in one case, which is mathematically impossible,” he said at a news conference in Istanbul on Wednesday.
He added that data from the 2018 polls showed that the number of registered voters in Ankara was 3 percent lower for the presidential race than for the parliamentary vote.
On Tuesday night, a group of people holding a “democracy watch” outside the YSK offices in Ankara were detained by the police.
“It is clear that the YSK is clearly against the law and is trying to usurp the will of the people,” Ilay Eroglu, a protester, told local media.
“We will protect our votes and our will and we will not be victims of the same violation of the law again.”