Turkey elections: Questions over ‘voter aged 165’ and other irregularities

Close-up of paper ballots as votes are counted in the Turkish election on June 24, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Voter registrations have surged in some districts since the mid-2018 elections

Political parties in Turkey are crying foul after thousands of unlikely voters appeared on the electoral roll.

Among the oddities are many first-time voters over 100 years old – and one aged 165.

Opposition parties also said they had discovered more than 1,000 voters registered at a single apartment.

The discovery comes ahead of local elections in March, in which President Erdogan’s AK Party may face its toughest political challenge in years.

Turkey has faced economic stagnation in recent months, and the value of its currency is significantly lower than it was a year ago. That has led to speculation that the dominant AKP could lose several key cities, including the capital, Ankara.

Opposition parties now say that voter lists are being manipulated.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) allege that the unusual voter records they have found are mostly areas where AKP lost by a small number of votes in previous elections.

CHP says there are more than 6,000 registered voters over 100 years old, many of which are supposedly older than the oldest documented living person, currently 116.

It includes 165-year-old Ayse Ekici, allegedly born in 1854, at the time of the Ottoman empire, and registered to vote for the first time his year, CHP said.

Another voter, known only as Zulfu, is supposedly 149. There is also Ayse, said to be 148 years old.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The supposed voter Ayse Ekici would have been born under the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid of the Ottoman Empire

There are also widespread examples of suspiciously large numbers of people registered at a single address, opposition parties say.

In addition to the 1,000 people reported registered at a single apartment, there are many apparently registered at buildings that are empty, or at construction sites, or on the fifth floor of a four-storey building in one case in Istanbul.

There are also surprisingly large shifts in voter numbers – one district in Cankiri saw its registered voters grow by 95% in six months.

Opposition parties have asked the country’s electoral board to investigate the discoveries.

On Monday, Hasan Seymen of the Iyi party tweeted that tens of thousands of voters had been taken off the roll following complaints from the opposition.

But one official from the AK Party said the supposed electoral irregularities were in fact designed to hurt the ruling party, not help it, and that the party had filed objections itself.

“The opposition parties are trying to create the perception that we are organising this,” party member and election official Recep Ozel told Reuters. “We are the biggest victims here.”

His counterpart for the CHP, Hadimi Yakupoglu, told Deutsche Welle that faked registrations were an attempt to manipulate the elections.

“The mayors and parties are to blame,” he said, alleging that mayors had registered other towns’ residents. “Mayor is an attractive role, so they try to get as many voters as possible.”

“It has never been this bad,” he said.

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