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All security precautions taken for upcoming polls, says top Turkiye election official

May 12, 2023 at 6:01 pm

Officials work in a printing house to print and collect ballot papers ahead of the presidential and 28th parliamentary elections held in May 14, in Ankara, Turkiye on May 08, 2023 [Evrim Aydın/Anadolu Agency]

Preparations are complete in Turkiye to hold presidential and parliamentary polls on Sunday, with “all measures” taken to ensure security throughout the election process, the head of the country’s top election body told Anadolu.

“All measures and precautions with regards to our technological infrastructure and against possible power cuts and cyber-attacks have been taken, and necessary trial tests have been carried out,” Supreme Election Council (YSK) Chairman, Ahmet Yener, said on Friday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The elections in Turkiye will take place on Sunday. On the presidential ballot, voters will choose between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking re-election, main opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Sinan Ogan. Muharrem Ince, another presidential contender, withdrew from the race on Thursday.

Meanwhile, 24 political parties and 151 independent candidates are vying for seats in the 600-member Turkish Parliament.

Underlining that “all measures have been taken by the YSK, our provincial and district election boards” to ensure a healthy and safe environment during the polls, Yener said preparations were complete and everything going according to schedule.

With the distribution of ballots complete, he noted that more political parties were competing in these elections than in any other polls in Turkiye’s history.

READ: Turkiye invites European delegations to monitor the elections

Also, for the first time, fold-over templates will be available for visually impaired voters to help them mark their desired presidential candidate and political party, Yener said.

Describing the 14 May elections as a “festival of democracy”, he urged “all citizens with the right to vote to safely go to the polls and cast their ballots.”

Yener advised the voters to carry identification with them when they go to vote and said unofficial results will be announced by the YSK on Election Day.

Parties’ officials to approve tally reports

As one measure ensuring the integrity of the elections, Yener said every member of committees serving at each ballot box across the country will have to sign off on the tally for their ballot box.

Each of these committees will include representatives of the political parties competing in the polls, he said, with the parties also to receive scanned copies of the official ballot box tallies sent to their headquarters.

Under Turkish law, parties can file objections and complaints against the tallies, Yener added. “All these mechanisms will be in operation the election and our elections will be securely concluded throughout.”

Earthquake zone ready for election

On how the elections will be held in parts of southern Turkiye, hit in February by massive earthquakes, Yener said a delegation of election officials had been sent to the region to report on the extent of the damage and the requirements for the polls to take place.

“Container areas have been set up in yards of schools that were damaged in the earthquake, and all necessary measures have been taken for our voters to cast their votes safely in these areas,” he said.

For uprooted quake survivors currently living in other provinces, Yener said they were allowed to register their addresses at their current place of residence so they could cast their votes.

“Currently, about 8.9 million voters are registered in the earthquake zone. Everything is ready. All measures have been taken to ensure that the voters can vote safely,” he said.

Overseas votes safe and secure

Yener also touched on overseas voting, which ended on Tuesday. Noting an increase in the number of voters casting their ballots outside the country, he said turnout was at 53 per cent.

After the polls at overseas voting stations were closed, these ballots were transported safely to the capital, Ankara, under the protection of five separate locks, said the YSK chief.

One of the keys is held by the Chairman of the Foreign District Election Board, while the other four are in the hands of political parties, he added.

The votes will start being counted at 5.00 pm, local time (1400GMT) on Sunday, as the voting process comes to an end across Turkiye.

Over 1.76 million Turks living abroad cast their votes at diplomatic missions to elect the country’s new president and parliamentary representatives, while voting procedures continue at customs gates until 14 May.

READ: Turkiye invites European delegations to monitor the elections