Ankara, Sep 24 () - A local election authority’s decision to move ballot boxes from some neighborhoods of the district of Cizre following violence earlier this month has sparked a political debate on poll security as Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK) said it would examine related requests next week.
YSK President Sadi Güven said in a written statement on Sept. 22 that it was the authority to decide on processes about the elections.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) member of the Cizre District Election Board, Kemal Cingü, said the decision was made by only one member of the board and that no one solicited their views.
The Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) member of the Cizre board, Sertaç Özkan, said the decision was null and void because it was taken during a meeting in which they were absent. The HDP will object to the decision, he added.
The CHP’s YSK member, Mehmet Hadimi Yakupoğlu, underlined that the 79th Article of the constitution gives the YSK the responsibility to hold orderly elections and can use the same article if it determines irregularities in the decisions of provincial and district boards.
“But, the case cannot apply to the Cizre example since the law regarding the principle provisions of elections and the electoral roll clearly bans moving ballot boxes. Moving [ballot boxes] can only be done if there are less than nine voters. A contrary decision could lead to obstructing the right to vote. If one cannot get into a place due to security, it also means the citizen cannot go out” Yakupoğlu stated.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) member of the YSK, Kürşat Türker Ercan, recalled the electoral body’s previous decisions against moving ballot boxes. Acknowledging that there were places where security cannot be provided due to terror acts, Ercan proposed postponing the elections.
The YSK takes impartial decisions in legal terms and nobody can intervene in the electoral body’s decisions, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Sept. 23, adding that the board’s decisions were not to be questioned.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier stated that it was impossible to move ballot boxes to another place without a change in the constitution.
“For the system for transferring [ballot boxes], there has to be a constitutional amendment,” he said Aug. 31. Erdoğan stated that the YSK could not take such a decision.
Eray Temizkan of the Cizre District Election Board decided on Sept. 18 not to establish ballot boxes in three neighborhoods and many villages in Cizre, while Bitlis Gov. Ahmet Çınar also asked the Provincial Election Board whether certain polling stations could be relocated to certain provincial and district centers.
The decision cited security concerns and the risk of bomb attacks during the vote.
More than 48,000 people in the Cudi, Nur and Sur neighborhoods out of a total 66,000 eligible voters in the prominently Kurdish town will be affected by the decision.
Dozens were killed during an eight-day siege between Sept. 4 and 12 in the Cizre district of Şırnak province, as security forces clashed with alleged militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Besides “flaws in past elections,” the decision also noted that “ditches and barricades” established by locals in response to alleged police aggression in the area were still in place in the three neighborhoods.