Unsealed Turkish Referendum Ballots Are Valid, According to Election Board

The head of the High Electoral Council (YSK) has said unsealed ballot papers were valid as leaders of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and Republican People’s Party (CHP) who campaigned “No” for Sunday’s referendum in Turkey, deemed it illegal and alleged fraud, calling for the recounting of many of suspected votes.

Speaking to the Turkish media at its headquarters in Ankara, Sadi Güven head of YSK said before elections were held, it had been decided on unanimously.

Within hours after the counting of the votes, HDP and CHP alleged that actions of the country’s High Election Council call into question the legitimacy of the referendum result.

The YSK made changes to the rules and regulations half way through the process, said CHP leader Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu after the ‘Yes’ camp declared a narrow victory. “You cannot change the laws of the game during the match,” he said.

The pro-Kurdish party HDP, which like CHP campaigned for a ‘No’ vote, is also disputing the results.

“There were ballot papers without stamps on their backs. This shows no commitment to the laws of the election process,” said HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir.

Baydemir added that “more than 600 ballot boxes or so which were transferred for counting were illegal.”

The referendum process took place “under pressure,” he said. The nation is currently under a state of emergency imposed after the attempted coup last summer. Under the emergency laws, Turkish security forces have carried out operations in Kurdish areas and arrested many Kurdish and pro-Kurdish politicians.

He said that their observers are witnesses of the violations and can identify the boxes containing ballots that were not stamped by YSK officials as valid.

“This violation is unacceptable and what is announced now is not finalized yet,” Baydemir declared

However, the head of the country’s electoral board, Güven reiterated that ballot papers without stamps on them were also used in past elections.

“Final referendum results will be released within 11-12 days,” Güven added.