Time clash in the Supreme Election Council’s decision – What is to become of votes in the east?

CHP Deputy General Chair Bülent Tezcan, reacting to the decision passed by the Supreme Election Council, stressed that ballot boxes in the east and southeast were opened at 16:00 and this message went out one and a half hours later.

cumhuriyet.com.tr
17 Nisan 2017 Pazartesi, 19:29

The CHP’s Tezcan said, ‘There is only one decision that will comfort the people on the legal plane and that is for the poll to be cancelled by the Supreme Election Council.’

CHP Deputy General Chair Bülent Tezcan held a press conference in the wake of the referendum results and reacted strongly to the decision passed by the Supreme Election Council for unstamped voting slips to be deemed valid. The CHP’s Tezcan, pointing out that ballot boxes in the east and southeast had been opened one and a half hours before the time the Supreme Election Council message was sent, said, ‘There is only one decision that will comfort the people on the legal plane and that is for the poll to be cancelled by the Supreme Election Council.’

 

The key points from Tezcan's speech are as follow:

We conveyed objections to the Supreme Election Council and said, ‘Ensure that the count is done in secret; serious discredit will come from such counts.’ At 17:21 hours the short message that you see here was sent by the Supreme Election Council to polling committees. What does it say in this short message?


THE SUPREME ELECTION COUNCIL’S MESSAGE WENT TO THE EAST AND SOUTHEAST ONE AND A HALF HOURS LATER 

This is very clear evidence for our complaints up until 18:21. That a count was conducted from which voters in that ballot box area were excluded. Ballot boxes in the east and southeast were opened at 16:00 and this message went out one and a half hours later. The other ballot boxes were opened at 18:00 and a large number of the counts were conducted in secret. This in particular has unfortunately revealed the 2017 constitutional referendum to be a referendum in which history has repeated itself. The 2017 referendum will go down in history as a ‘big-stick election.’ This referendum will be included on a black page of history as the 2017 big-stick election in which the principle of open voting and secret counting was applied.


‘THE SUPREME ELECTION COUNCIL DID NOT CONDUCT A RELIABLE POLL’ 

The Supreme Election Council was unable to and did not conduct a reliable poll, or have one held. The Supreme Election Council’s duty is to ensure that polls are conducted under judicial oversight and supervision. In these polls, the Supreme Election Council was a safeguard and means for this poll to be conducted under the ruling party’s oversight and supervision. The Supreme Election Council initially accepted, in the face of Article 67 of the Constitution, the amendment to the electoral law made under a state of emergency decree with the force of law, an amendment to the electoral law that provides for media monitoring in campaign periods and aims to ensure that there is fair electioneering.

 ‘IT ACCEPTED UNSTAMPED VOTING SLIPS EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE INVALID’

Despite this being expressly against the law and unstamped voting slips being invalid, it accepted them. The Supreme Election Council, in violation of the express provision of this statute, accepted voting slips as being valid despite being unstamped on the rear, lacking polling stamps. The Supreme Election Council has, in the face of this explicit statutory provision, also deemed these laws to be invalid. It deemed them to be valid at the time counting started and after it had started. In other words, the match had started and it changed the rules. It changed not only its own rule book, but changed the rules in violation of statute. This was done in response to AK Party Representatives’ objections. A decision was taken while counting was in progress. This is a move that clearly casts doubt on the legitimacy of the poll.

HE GAVE AN EXAMPLE WITH A VIDEO

Deeming voting slips and envelopes to be valid without a stamp in practice renders meaningless the provision whereby political parties provide members of polling committees. It nullifies it, because, with political parties having membership of the polling committee and thanks to those members, a stamp has been introduced to prevent votes from being brought from outside and placed in the bags and ballot boxes. This is a measure that has been introduced to prevent replacement with outside votes. Above all, we have a video from during the counting. This is not footage that has been manufactured on social media. It is genuine footage. We will see together how this lays bare this practice and the kind of poll we held.

This is the clear warning and objection of our lawyer colleague, our lady colleague. Finally, even though the Supreme Election Council stated in a circular that stamps reading ‘preference’ would be used, it has given rise to another irregularity with its decision on the stamp reading ‘yes’. The Supreme Election Council has as good as said in this referendum, when put briefly, the power that has brought us here wants this. The Supreme Election Council has unfortunately with its actions as good as shown that it says that the power that has brought us here wants this, and put this into practice.

‘WHAT IS CALLED FOR IS THE CANCELLATION OF THIS POLL’ 

The legitimacy of the constitutional amendment referendum will forever be debated. It has become clearly apparent that ‘No’ is ahead in the public consciousness and society did not consent to this proposed constitutional amendment. Society said ‘No’ to the one-person regime. Even after all objection processes have been exhausted, these results are in breach of the law and due procedure thanks to the tainted and fraudulent means I have just described.

This is technically impossible. Through this circular, unstamped voting slips and envelopes in their entirety have been accepted as valid. Due to voting slips of this kind, 165,000 ballot boxes are fully tainted. They are not captured in the ballot box records. Had it not been for this decision, those unstamped voting slips would have been separated and they would have been stored separately. It is unknown how many such votes there are among the votes that have currently been cast. Secondly, it is unknown how many votes were stamped later, as in the footage. It is impossible to determine how many of them would have been replaced while in the bags. So, there is one single decision that will put an end to this debate over legitimacy and comfort the people on the legal plane and that is for the poll to be cancelled by the Supreme Election Council. What is called for is the cancellation of this poll.

Tezcan replied to journalists’ questions following his explanations.

AS THE CHP, WE WILL FIRST MAKE OUR OBJECTIONS THAT ARE SUBJECT TO TIME LIMITATION

There is both a legal and a political aspect to the things I have spoken of. The fight will be waged in both the legal and political arena. Of course, this will be waged on the democratic plane. As the CHP, we will first make our objections that are subject to time limitation. We will take the steps we must take. In everything I have spoken of there are simultaneously harbingers of a political initiative.

HOW WILL THE LEGAL PROCESS MOVE FORWARD? WILL THERE BE RECOURSE TO THE SUPREME ELECTION COUNCIL, SUB-PROVINCE ELECTION COUNCILS OR THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT?

We will do this simultaneously. We will make our objections both to councils in the sub-provinces, and simultaneously we will lodge our objections with the Supreme Election Council. We will make recourse everywhere, including to the constitutional judiciary and the European Court of Human Rights judiciary.

DOES THE CHANGE MADE BY THE SUPREME ELECTION COUNCIL, THE SMS SENT BY SUPREME ELECTION COUNCIL, COUNT AS AN OFFICIAL RESOLUTION?

This, in any case, is not a resolution – it is a finding, evidence. It has been established that the Supreme Election Council engaged in practices that are contrary to the principle of a secret count and, with this having been established, it relayed this to election councils all over Turkey through its own internal communication. It is impossible for this to be denied.

Here is the message sent by the Supreme Election Council to whose time the CHP’s Tezcan has drawn attention.

“The Supreme Election Council has passed a decision at its meeting held today for voting slips and envelopes not bearing the polling committee’s stamp to be deemed valid unless they are proven to have been brought from outside and cast. Counting and listing procedures must be conducted accordingly.