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Hakkari governor’s plans to merge polling stations would affect one-third of voters

The Hakkari Governor’s Office has asked the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to merge 134 polling stations in various villages and neighborhoods into 38 locations, which is expected to affect some 50,000 citizens, almost one-third of voters in the province in the upcoming elections on June 24, the Gazete Duvar website reported.

According to data from the latest polls in 2017, there are 53 neighborhoods and 126 villages in Hakkari, totaling 179 polling stations. The plan is designed to move ballot boxes from 17 neighborhoods and 107 villages to locations ranging from one to 20 kilometers from home.

That is, almost one-third of all voters in Hakkari need to go somewhere else other than their immediate neighborhood to cast ballots. In such situations, the local governor’s office should assist with transportation; however, the sheer number of people who would need to be transported has raised concerns.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) member of the Hakkari City Election Council Mehmet Tiryaki argued that for one village alone they would need to find 40 minibuses to move people, which would be impossible to manage.

“This is an area in which 80-85 percent of the voters support the HDP. After moving the polling stations, if 20 percent of the voters won’t be able to cast their ballots, that will have a direct influence on the election results,” Tiryaki said.

Under a new election law passed by Parliament in March, the YSK was authorized to decide whether it is necessary to merge polling stations upon the demands of local authorities.

The Hakkari City Election Council sent a petition to the YSK arguing that they wanted to protect citizens from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants who could threaten voters to cast their ballots for a certain party.

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