Septuagenarian Mehmet Alcu was not deterred from being part of one of the most important decisions Turks will make in this decade – whether to transition from a parliamentary to a presidential system of governance. And in his village in Batman, Turkey’s south-eastern region, he was the only one voting.
On Sunday, he woke up, walked to a polling booth set up inside a funeral home in Demirbilek village just to facilitate him and voted in the Turkish constitutional referendum.
Over 55 million Turkish citizens in this country of about 80 million are registered to vote, and will decide with a "yes" or "no" whether to accept 18 amendments to the constitution put forward by parliament. These amendments range from the powers the presidency will wield, how to choose members of the judiciary, the minimum age of an MP, the strength of the parliament and others. The changes will also abolish the office of prime minister.
Alcu is the only person who voted in Demirbilek because the other resident there – his wife – was too sick to participate.
Polls closed across the country in two phases but Ramazan Kaban, the official responsible for the lone ballot box, said, "We’re the earliest [place] that finished the voting process in Turkey.”
"Our 14 relatives who are registered to vote at the village, living in various European countries,” Alcu, who is also a local official responsible for his neighbourhood’s functions, said.
“They cannot come here to vote in elections or referendums. In previous elections, I was voting with my wife but she suffers from a serious health condition so she couldn’t vote,” Alcu said.
12 votes in 12 minutes
Twelve people were registered to vote in Kayranokcular, a neighbourhood in Manisa where a grand total of 18 people live.
They started to vote at 8 am and were finished in 12 minutes.
A local official said the area was previously a village but later carved into a neighbourhood, causing the number of voters to drop from 18 to 12.
“We used our democratic right by voting,” he said.
After the 12 voted, they went back to work in the fields.