As Turkey's Supreme Election Council reviews the votes cast for Istanbul’s local elections on March 31, here is the whole process explained.
Amid allegations of voter fraud, Turkey's Supreme Election Council (YSK) on Wednesday started reassessing the votes cast on March 31 in 17 districts of Istanbul.
According to preliminary results, the Nation’s Alliance candidate Ekrem Imamoglu secured 48.79 percent of the votes, taking a narrow lead over the People’s Alliance candidate Binali Yildirim, who received 48.51 percent of the votes.
On Tuesday, the AK Party officially challenged the poll results in the 39 districts of Istanbul that fall under the jurisdiction of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
However, the Istanbul Provincial Election Council decided to halt the review and recount of these votes following an appeal by the main opposition CHP.
The AK Party filed an objection over the decision.
The YSK then held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the Provincial Election Council’s decision and decided to overturn it.
In the two days after elections are held, citizens who are the eligible to vote, political parties, presidents or their deputies, observers and candidates may appeal to the district election council for an assessment of votes.
This objection can be raised if there is an inconsistency between the polling result records and the counting sheets. If the entries of result data is incorrect, parties can also object to YSK.
There may also be an objection if there are invalid votes so high that they could affect the election result.
The district election council has a decision-making period of up to two days. If the objection is rejected, an appeal may be filed to the provincial election council within two days.
The provincial election council also has a two-day decision-making period. If the provincial election council also refuses to apply, parties can take their complaint to YSK.
The election council is formed of a judge and two public officers from YSK and four appointees from each of the four parties with the highest vote in the last election. The council then re-enters the area where the votes are stored, and begins the recount.
YSK will recount the votes and these revised votes are final, no further objection can be made. The final results will be announced on April 13 and the judiciary is closed against these results.
Reassessing invalid votes is not an unprecedented process, such procedures were also carried out in previous elections, said the head of Turkey's election authority on Wednesday.
Addressing Sunday’s local Turkish elections, which have triggered recounts and legal challenges over invalid ballots, Sadi Guven, head of YSK, said: "The recounting process is not only evaluated in terms of the objecting party."
Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara, Guven said examination of invalid ballots includes all parties in accordance with the criteria in Article 298 of Turkey’s election law and YSK rules.