Turkish presidential candidate queries ballots

AP News
Posted: Aug 05, 2014 11:13 AM
Turkish presidential candidate queries ballots

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's main opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential election questioned on Tuesday why electoral authorities are printing millions of extra ballots.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said international observers had noted that about 18 million additional ballot papers were being printed for the vote, the first round of which is on Aug. 10. If no candidate wins an absolute majority, a runoff will be held on Aug. 24.

"Of course some of the ballot papers may come to harm. They could be destroyed by rain, floods and mud," Ihsanoglu said. "But what does it mean to print 18 million extra? Who will use these ballots? How will they not go into the wrong hands? This is what we are asking. Who is responsible?"

A July 31 interim report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is sending election observers, noted that about 55.8 million voters, including overseas residents, are registered to vote, but that the electoral board had told them it was printing 73.8 million ballots.

The board's "decision on the number of ballots to be issued lacks a clear legal basis," the OSCE report said.

Responding to a query, the electoral board said the discrepancy arose because the ballot papers were printed in batches of 420. The ballot papers sent to each voting station would be in batches of 420, even if only 30 people were registered at that station.

The board said unused ballots would be returned.

Ihsanoglu is supported by several opposition parties. He is running against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is widely expected to win the election, and Selahattin Demirtas, who heads the left-wing People's Democratic Party.