Election watchdog says Turks should be 'comfortable'

Election watchdog says Turks should be 'comfortable'

Turkey's elections watchdog on Tuesday vouched for the security of ballots in the June 7 general election, claiming that the misappropriation of ballot papers was "impossible", Anadolu reported.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sadi Guven, chairman of the Supreme Election Board, said nearly 74 million ballot papers had been printed for 53.7 million voters in Turkey and an overseas electorate of 2.9 million.

"There is no trouble in terms of election security concerning ballots," Guven said.

Previous elections in Turkey have been marred by allegations of voter fraud despite the country's reputation for free and fair elections.

Referring to the practice of political party representatives jointly overseeing the distribution of ballot papers, Guven added: "In accordance with the law, more ballots than needed have been printed and those not used will be collected back with the record of political parties."

The former judge said the election was "substantially safe" and said Turks should be "comfortable" with the safeguards in place. He told Anadolu Agency that seven observers, including five representatives from political parties, would be present at each polling station.

Dismissing the possibility of blank ballot papers reaching anyone unauthorized, he said: "The loss of the printed ballots is impossible."

This week's general election will see the ruling Justice and Development or AK Party attempt to increase its majority and usher in constitutional changes to change the parliamentary system to a presidential structure.

Turkish nationals living abroad cast 931,465 votes at 112 embassies and consulates in 54 countries before the overseas polls closed on Sunday while a further 103,452 have voted at 33 border crossings and airports, Guven said.

These votes will be counted at the same time as the ballots from within Turkey -- when domestic polls close at 5 p.m. local time (1500GMT).

Guven said the overseas election process was completed safely and monitored by "representatives of all parties". He added that some overseas ballot boxes had already arrived in Turkey and the rest were expected by Wednesday.

Addressing allegations that Syrian refugees had been issued with Turkish identity cards to allow them to vote in the election, Guven said the fact that their identity numbers only contained nine digits rather than the usual 11 would mean they could not vote. "The system does not accept identity cards with nine numbers," he said.

The country's 25th general election will see 550 lawmakers from among 20 political parties elected to the Grand National Assembly.

It will be overseen by a limited number of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe.

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