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Jan 16 2019

Turkish opposition cries foul as 165-year-old registered to vote in March elections

Over 6,000 people in Turkey over the age of 100 are listed as voters ahead of March local elections, including one 148-year-old, one aged 149, and another aged 165, according to the main opposition party, which has presented a report listing what it called a series of irregularities to the electoral supervisory body, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

The secularist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) applied to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to extend the period of voter registration due to reports of irregularities across the country. The board declined the request and voter registration for the local elections will be completed on Thursday. 

The CHP said 6,389 people over the age of 100 were registered to vote in the upcoming local elections, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking to maintain its hold over Turkey's two biggest cities and scores of local authorities in the face of an economic crisis.

The CHP said among the centenarians registered to vote was 165-year-old first-time voter Ayşe Ekici, born in 1854.

According to the CHP, the number of voters in one district of the central province of Çankırı has increased by 95.74 percent in six months, while it has increased by 90.41 percent in another district in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

The party also said there were voters registered on the fifth floor of a four-storey building in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, while other voters were registered as living in an empty building in the city’s Üsküdar district. 

There are irregularities, everywhere, really everywhere in Turkey,” Burhanettin Bulut, a CHP member of parliament told Deutsche Welle Turkish. Bulut said his party had detected fake voters living on vacant land, on unfinished construction sites and non-existent buildings and flats.  

Other opposition parties also said they had found similar irregularities. The nationalist Good Party said it had discovered 80 people from 45 different families registered in a 90 square metre house in the southeastern province of Bitlis

“Fake voters are springing up everywhere in Turkey,” the Good Party’s deputy chairman Hasan Seymen told DW. Seymen said the party had detected irregularities in 15 provinces and appealed to the YSK.

According to Meral Danış Beştaş, a deputy from the mainly Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), told DW that the sudden changes in the number of registered voters were large enough to affect election results.

The HDP said it had found serious irregularities in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. “We detected 224 voters in a housekeeper’s flat in Bingöl, 208 voters in one house in the Hani district of Diyarbakır, and 1,108 voters at one address in Hakkari,” Beştaş said. 

Beştaş said the HDP had also found 528 voters at one address in Siirt, 526 voters at another in Şırnak, while 374 appeared to be living in one flat in Iğdır. Beştaş said the government and the YSK had not responded to its calls to take measures against the irregularities.