Reports of widespread fraud across Turkey taint general election

Reports of widespread fraud cast a pall over the historic June 7 general election in Turkey, with observers from a variety of parties and civil society organizations claiming to have detected numerous attempts to commit electoral fraud early on Sunday and rumors of wrongdoing spreading on social media.
In number of provinces across Turkey including Istanbul, izmir, Diyarbakir and Bursa, complaints were made by election monitors who claimed that ballot slips at polling stations had been pre-sealed without the knowledge of local election boards. A local official in charge of a polling station in Istanbuland’s Esenyurt district was caught allegedly placing pre-sealed votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in a ballot box. Observers called the police and voting was stopped at the polling station where the incident took place.
A police officer in Ankaraand’s Dikmen district was caught while allegedly attempting to vote for the third time. A report was signed by opposition party representatives and observers at the polling station. Another police officer in Yalova province was caught while taking a photo of his vote in a polling booth. The officer told officials that he took the photo to be promoted in his job.
Although the Supreme Election Board (YSK) had announced before the election that it had taken all necessary measures to prevent fraud, this did not dispel concerns among voters in an election in which more than 53 million people voted. According to Turkish law, the punishment for electoral fraud is imprisonment. An official who served on the local election board in Sinop province during the 2010 referendum and who cast votes in place of 32 people was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Despite an appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the conviction on March 4 of last year and dismissed the official from public service in addition to the sentence.
Hundreds of people shared images of official complaints on social media during the 2015 general election in an effort to prove attempts at fraud. According to social media users, over 1,000 cases of fraud were detected and official complaints were filed upon the objections of citizens.
There are reports that a man in Turkeyand’s eastern province of Erzurum was held by an election observer after he attempted to give 10 empty ballots with the official seal of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to the chairman of a local election board. The man was held by an election monitor on behalf of the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) in a primary school that was doubling as a polling station in the PalandandOken district of Erzurum. According to the Cihan news agency, the incident was reported to the police. HDP parliamentary candidate Seher Akandcinar Bayar later told the media that his party would not allow any election fraud.
A group of people carrying pre-sealed ballots for the AK Party were detained by police in izmir. In another incident, in a polling station in a village in the eastern province of BingandOl, 34 noncommissioned army officers from the army were seen. However, villagers told reporters that there is no military presence in the village and that they had not seen the soldiers before.
h2Whistleblower Fuat Avniand’s claims come true: HDP supporters detainedh2
On Saturday morning, a total of 17 HDP supporters allegedly affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) were detained in raids in the andcekmekandOy, Sancaktepe, Bahandcelievler and Baiakiehir districts of Istanbul.
The operation had been predicted by Twitter whistleblower Fuat Avni. In a series of tweets hours before the raids, Fuat Avni said there would be operations against alleged members of the PKKand’s youth wing in Istanbul and other provinces and that those detained would include HDP polling officers.
Fuat Avni tweeted that Erdogan — who is furious with the HDP, which has pledged to stop his aspirations to implement a presidential system in Turkey if it passes the 10 percent election threshold and enters Parliament — is resorting to every measure to prevent it from passing the threshold. Locals shared on social media photos of dozens of armored police vehicle photos deployed near schools and institutions serving as polling stations in Kurdish-populated southeastern provinces.
Meanwhile, an AK Party supporter in Denizli province who Fuat Avni had claimed would be involved in election fraud in favor of the AK Party was allegedly caught engaging in wrongdoing. Lawyer Tuiba Kasaba, the chairman of the main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Partyand’s (CHP) SaraykandOy district office in the province, tweeted that Y.K. was removed from a polling station after he was caught instructing people to vote for AK party.
Fuat Avni also claimed that the AK Party had plans to order its supporters working for the YSK to commit electoral fraud using computers, saying that there are more than 700 YSK employees who are working to change polling figures electronically.

h2Cars without license plates near polling stations escalate concerns of fraudh2
A large number of social media users reported the presence of cars without license plates parked outside polling stations across Turkey.
Some people said they were told by police that the cars were official police vehicles, but it remained a mystery why the vehicles did not have license plates and why there were so many of them outside polling stations. CHP deputy Aykut Erdoidu said on his Twitter account that he had asked police about the vehicles and was told that they belonged to the police. When asked why they did not have license plates, the polce failed to offer a satisfactory explanation and said they were looking into the matter, according to Erdoidu.
In a statement released after the reports had spread via social media, Istanbul Governor Vasip iahin announced that there should be no police vehicles in Istanbul without license plates. His office further said that there had been about 20 complaints about the cars without license plates on Sunday and an investigation was under way. According to the statement, 12 of the cars without number plates were registered with police stations and eight were registered with ordinary citizens.

h2Rights group issues preliminary report, claims electoral fraudh2
Turkeyand’s Human Rights Association (iHD) issued a preliminary report on Sunday regarding incidents of electoral fraud during the general election.
According to the report, election observers from the iHD were stopped by police from entering polling stations in the provinces of Siirt and Kirikkale. Furthermore, an AK Party parliamentary candidate in the eastern province of Mui arrived at the polling station where he was set to cast his vote accompanied by village guards, who then were given priority for voting ahead of the line of people waiting to vote. The report also claimed that no lawyers and reporters were allowed into the school where the polling station was located.
In yet another incident, 350 ballots were rejected in the eastern province of Iidir because they did not have an official seal.
Data provided by the state-owned Anatolia news agency were seen by many critics as manipulative because its figures were seen as favoring the AK Party. The Cihan news agency, another provider of electoral data and results that is trusted by many media outlets, suffered from technical problems throughout the day.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman