Turkey, Politics

Election board head says unsealed ballot papers valid

Official results due to be announced in 11-12 days, according to Sadi Guven

17.04.2017
Election board head says unsealed ballot papers valid Sadi Guven, the chairman of the Supreme Election Board (YSK)

Ankara

By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun and Ahmet Sait Akcay

ANKARA

The disputed ballots in Turkey’s referendum are “legitimate”, the head of the election board said Monday.

Sadi Guven, the chairman of the Supreme Election Board (YSK), defended the decision to allow votes that did not bear official seals to be counted alongside checked ballots.

In a news conference in Ankara, he said the “voting papers and envelopes that were claimed to be void and disputed since the evening are YSK-made, real, legitimate, non-fake ballots.”

During Sunday night’s count, the YSK suddenly announced that unverified votes -- which had not been verified as genuine by election officials -- would be allowed.

This led to a protest by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which said it would contest the count and complain about other violations during the vote.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said: “We respect the nation's will but the decision on unsealed ballots overshadowed it.”

However, Guven said: “We decided with the political parties to count the non-sealed ballots.”

He added: “It is not right to attribute a meaning to this decision.”

The poll resulted in a 51.41 percent victory for the Yes campaign, heralding the adoption of an 18-article bill that includes provisions for an executive presidency.

As of 10.50 a.m. local time (0750GMT), unofficial results showed 25,156,860 voted Yes while 23,777,014, or 48.59 percent, voted No. The turnout was 85.46 percent.

Earlier, Guven said a “unanimous decision” had been made before transferring the unverified votes to the system.

“Before counting, ballots, envelopes and voters’ numbers are crosschecked,” he said at the YSK office in Ankara.

He added that unsealed voting envelopes had been included in election results in the past.

The final results would be released within 12 days, Guven said.

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