6 mln votes cast in 22,000 ballot boxes in May 14 elections are ‘suspicious’: opposition party

A man holds his ballot paper to vote at a polling station in snap twin Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in Istanbul on June 24, 2018. Turks began voting in dual parliamentary and presidential polls seen as the President's toughest election test, with the opposition revitalised and his popularity at risk from growing economic troubles. / AFP PHOTO / Bulent Kilic

The nationalist İYİ (Good) Party has raised allegations of election fraud that potentially affected 6 million votes cast in tens of thousands of ballot boxes in Turkey’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections, citing abnormalities that appeared as statistical irregularities and inconsistencies in the election results, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Gerçek Gündem news website.

The elections, held on May 14, saw incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vying for re-election against his main rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). With neither candidate securing the required 50 percent in the first round, election officials have announced a runoff to be held on May 28. Unofficial results put Erdoğan at 49.5 percent of the vote, narrowly missing the mark, while Kılıçdaroğlu received 44.8 percent.

Meanwhile, ruling the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its electoral alliance secured a majority in the parliamentary elections, winning 323 out of 600 seats.

Birol Aydemir, former head of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) and an advisor to İYİ leader Meral Akşener, told Gerçek Gündem that a study they conducted revealed data from 22,000 ballot boxes to be “suspicious.”

Aydemir explained that they find it suspicious when they observe unusually high turnout rates and very low rates of invalid votes when comparing data from a specific ballot box with the data at the district or neighborhood level.

He claimed that genuine votes weren’t cast in rural areas and in the eastern and southeastern regions, particularly in such provinces as Şanlıurfa, Malatya, Erzincan, Siirt, Tokat, Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman and Hatay, where there was a lack of a sufficient number of observers.

“As our study also reveals, these votes are the ones that predominantly go to the ruling party or the current president. In some cases, a village headman or someone else … [casts votes] on behalf of all voters [in the area]. … The turnout rate [in these ballot boxes] is close to 100 percent, and the rate of invalid votes is either zero or very close to zero,” Aydemir added.

He said a scenario like this is statistically “impossible” and naturally makes them question whether there were representatives from any other party in ballot boxes where the results show 100 percent of votes going to the ruling AKP or its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

According to Aydemir, the MHP’s share of the vote is 10 percent or more above the party’s average vote share in the province in a total of 10,785 ballot boxes, which account for 5.6 percent of all boxes and include the votes of 4.18 percent of total voters. He says the suspicious votes in these boxes may have increased the MHP’s vote by 0.66 percent in the parliamentary election.

Aydemir’s analysis further shows, according to a report by the Artı Gerçek news website on Monday, that the votes of the Green Left Party (YSP) were shifted to the MHP at some polling stations in Şırnak and Mardin provinces.

The HDP decided to run under the banner of the YSP in the parliamentary elections in a bid to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections. The HDP is facing a closure case on terrorism charges that was filed in March 2021.

In 1,644 ballot boxes, Kılıçdaroğlu’s vote share is at least 1 percent lower than that of his CHP, showing that the votes cast for Kılıçdaroğlu were directed towards Muharrem İnce, another presidential candidate who withdrew from the race a few days before the elections, according to Aydemir.

Similar allegations of election fraud were also recently raised by jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), in addition to many other opposition figures and social media users. According to critics, the alleged irregularities were systematic and large enough to influence the election in favor of the AKP and Erdoğan.

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