Turkish citizens in the US began voting at polling stations set up inside the Turkish embassy and consulates Saturday to participate in their country’s general election that officially begins on June 7.
Some 14,000 Turkish citizens are eligible to vote in Washington D.C., while the overall number in the US is about 90,000.
Along with the US capital, Turkish citizens will vote in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Miami until May 31, 7 p.m., local time.
Hasan Kocahan, who was the first to vote in Washington D.C., had traveled all the way from Florida, where he was registered as a voter.
"I am happy to be the first in the line," Kocahan said, adding that: "I thought there will be a long queue, but I ended up being first."
Serdar Kilic, Turkey's ambassador to the US, called on Turkish citizens to participate in the elections by casting their vote at the nearest polling station. "We are expecting a high number of participants for the election," Kilic said.
According to Turkey's Supreme Election Board, 112 polling stations would be set up for almost three million Turkish nationals living abroad.
"No one should doubt the security of the votes," Ibrahim Uyar, Washington representative of governing Justice and Development or AK Party, said.
According to Uyar, the votes at the consulates and embassy would be secured in a room with three different locks; only one key to a unique lock would be given to each of the three party representatives, including AK Party, Republican People's Party (CHP), and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The room's door would open only when all three keys are used together, he added.
Yurter Ozcan, CHP’s US representative, also said that no one should be worried about the security of the votes and called on Turks living in the US to participate in the process.
Voting has also started in the Turkish consulate in New York where more than 34,000 eligible voters are registered in the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Turkey's New York Consul General Ertan Yalcin supervised the process during the early hours of the voting.
The June elections will elect 550 members of Turkish parliament from 20 political parties. This will be the country's 25th general elections.
Elections in Turkey have the second-highest voter turnout among developed democracies, according to a report released by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.
More than 84 percent of the electorate went to the polls in the 2011 general election, according to the report comparing turnout rates in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member states.