Monitoring group detects irregularities regarding 100.000 votes in referendum

As the controversy over the legitimacy of the referendum results in Turkey continues, “Vote and Beyond”, a voluntary election monitoring group, has released their preliminary findings about election frauds in a memo on Friday.

According to the group, in 7,048 ballot boxes more votes were found than the number of eligible voters and the total number of the votes in concern is 1.672.249. The group has also detected inconsistencies and irregularities in approximately 100,000 votes. In the light of their preliminary findings, the monitoring group has called on authorities to annul the referendum.

A package for constitutional change that will introduce an executive presidency in Turkey received 51.4 percent of the vote in favor in the referendum held on Sunday, but opposition groups have contested the results due to the use of unstamped ballots.

According to their first report after having accessed to 94 percent of the poll protocols and compared its own results with the ones from the Supreme Election Board (YSK), “Vote and Beyond” has detected inconsistencies and irregularities in approximately 100,000 votes.

Stating that their studies were based on the Election Law No: 298 and the circulars and decisions of the YSK which organized every step of the referendum in accordance with this law, “Vote and Beyond” pointed out in its report that the decision of YSK on the day of referendum to accept the unstamped ballot papers as valid, contradicted with the Election Law and the Circular No: 135. The monitoring group has also stated that this decision had also tarnished the transparency of the referendum and its compliance with the law beyond repair.

According to the data acquired in the “Vote and Beyond” report, of 166,679 protocols in total 158,181 were confirmed in Turkey Protocols Confirmation system; Having cross-checked 94.9 percent of these protocols only less than 40 percent of them could be cross-checked in Bayburt, Erzurum, Ağrı and Gümüşhane provinces;  Inconsistencies in 99,680 votes in 290 ballot boxes were detected in thorough comparison of the results. This constitutes 0.22 percent of all valid votes; Ballot boxes in which there were 100 percent “Yes” or “No” votes: “Yes” votes in 961 ballot boxes with 89,158 votes in total and “No” votes in 173 ballot boxes with 6,739 votes in total; More votes were found than the number of eligible voters in 7,048 ballot boxes and the total number of the related votes is 1.672.249 and 60,7 percent of such votes are “Yes” votes.

Stating that these findings are only the results of their preliminary studies and the detailed report will be submitted to the public as soon as they complete their work, “Vote and Beyond” said that “Considering our detection in respect to “block votes”, it is reasonable to suspect that it has been voted by someone on behalf of the people, and in favor of “Yes.” Those 7048 ballot boxes, in particular, should be investigated in detail.”

Underlining the fact that thousands of illegal intervention cases have been put on the record, such as voting outside of the election stations, stamps and ballots circulating freely in the hands, revealing what vote has been used, “Vote and Beyond” stated that ballot papers, stamps and envelopes coming from unknown origins outside of the designated polling sites were sighted in almost every city and it has been detected that thousands of people were clearly involved in irregularities.

Under the light of their findings “Vote and Beyond” has concluded that “unstamped ballot papers and envelopes actually mean manipulation of nearly 2.5 million votes. It is inevitable that the public vote held on April 16, 2017 must be invalidated on the grounds of all kinds of these legal matters related to it, considering together with the other cases mentioned above, although even just this particular case – suspicion on 2.5 million votes being rigged – should in fact be a reason sufficient enough for the annulment of the referendum.”

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) had also said that Turkey’s referendum on Sunday lacked equal opportunities, media coverage for the contesting sides and international standards for a fair election.

In a statement on Monday, the joint mission of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said the April 16 constitutional referendum in Turkey was contested on an unlevel playing field and that the two sides in the campaign did not have equal opportunities.

“In general, the referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards. The legal framework was inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic process. On referendum day there were no major problems, except in some regions, however we can only regret the absence of civil society observers in polling stations,” Cezar Florin Preda, head of the delegation from PACE, said. “A state of emergency should never be used to undermine the rule of law,” Preda added.

The OSCE said, in some cases, access for ODIHR observers during the opening and voting in polling stations was either denied or limited.

During the Sunday voting, some citizens cast their votes in unstamped ballots, while others used envelopes and ballots they brought with them, which prompted some opposition parties and naysayers to raise suspicions about the validity of the votes.

April 21, 2017

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