Opposition parties in Turkey have reported thousands of differences and voting problems in the presidential and parliamentary elections, raising doubts over the polls that happened on Sunday.
The Cumhuriyet Halk (Republican People’s Party, CHP) and the Yeşil Sol Party (Green Left Party, YSP) have expressed worries and filed complaints since Sunday about the differences between recorded count done at polling stations and the votes entered into the Supreme Election Council’s (YSK) system.
On Wednesday, Muharrem Erkek, CHP’s deputy chair, said the party found irregularities in 7,094 ballot boxes after it examined more than 201,000 from inside Turkey and overseas.
Some 4,825 of the CHP’s complaints were about parliamentary votes and 2,269 in the presidential election.
Turkey’s presidential election will go to a second round on May 28 after neither the current Recep Tayyip Erdogan, nor CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu achieved a clear 50 percent majority on Sunday.
Erdogan led the polls with 49.5 percent of the vote with Kilicdaroglu getting 44.89 percent.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Wednesday, Erkek said extra votes were also given to Erdogan, without providing any proof.
“We are tracking every single vote, even if it does not affect the overall results,” Erkek said.
In the parliamentary polls, Erdogan’s Adalet ve Kalkınma Party (Justice and Development Party, AK Party) won the most ballots.
The Milliyetçi Hareket Party (Nationalist Movement Party, MHP), AK Party’s alliance party, exceeded expectations with more than 10 percent of the vote share.
The YSP, which ran parliamentary candidates from the pro-Kurdish Halkların Demokratik Party (Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP) because of a legal closure risk against the latter, said it had found more than 1,000 cases of wrong entries.
“We have no evidence to say if there is an organised evil behind these mistakes and errors or whether someone is purposely trying to sway these outcomes,” YSP’s election spokesperson Mehmet Rustu Tiryaki said on Tuesday.
The party supported Kilicdaroglu, who leads a six-party alliance, for the presidency.
The election authority is set to release its data on Friday. But it has shared information on the votes with political parties.
The CHP asked voters to compare data published on YSK’s website with freely available polling station records. That led to people sharing differences on social media, including cases in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast where HDP/YSP votes seemed to have been moved to the MHP.
Although election campaigns in Turkey have been criticised for giving the governing party an unfair edge over its use of state resources, media control and legal threats of opponents, the actual vote itself had been considered to be mostly secure.
YSK President Ahmet Yener, however, rejected the claims made online as “baseless” and “meant to deceive the public”, adding that the organisation’s system was “transparent”.
Roman Udot, co-chair of Golos, a Russian election data monitoring watchdog now based in Lithuania, said a study of YSK’s data of previous Turkish elections showed “very odd things”.
“We found 3,500 polling stations where the turnout was more than 100 percent, over 800 percent in one case, which is mathematically impossible,” he told a news conference in Istanbul on Wednesday.
He added that data from the 2018 polls showed the number of registered voters in Ankara being 3 percent lower for the presidential race than the parliamentary vote.
On Tuesday night, a group of people holding a “democracy watch” outside the YSK’s Ankara offices were arrested by police.
“It is clear that the YSK is blatantly illegal and is trying to seize the will of the people,” Ilay Eroglu, a protester, told local media.
“We will defend our votes and our will and we will not be a victim of the same illegality again.