The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will designate an observer from its party members for each ballot box in the March 31 local elections to ensure the security of the votes, while enhancing communication with voters.
Speaking at a meeting with the observers in Istanbul yesterday, the leader of the AK Party, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said currently there are more than 280,000 observers for the party. Listing their duties, Erdoğan said they have to communicate with the other party members to overcome any loss of votes while also encouraging party members to call on their close ones to join the party as well.
In case of any problems or injustice that might occur during the voting process, the observers will intervene immediately, Erdoğan said, while adding that they will also accompany the votes while they are being transferred to the election board for counting.
"They will never leave the ballot boxes alone," he emphasized.
"Some 300-350 voters are voting in a single ballot box. To these people, we were giving coffees before. Now, we will distribute teas with our best wishes for them," he said, adding that the observers of the ballot boxes should be the first ones at the voting sites because of their crucial duties.
"We have established 800 communication points in 959 neighborhoods in Istanbul. Through this program that we call ‘AK [white] ballot,' we are able to monitor these points any time," Erdoğan underlined.
"As my heart is with you, I'll also be physically there for you during the campaigning process," he further emphasized.
Turkish local polls are held every five years to elect mayors for 1,397 municipalities, including 30 metropolitan, 51 provincial, 519 metropolitan district, 400 district and 397 town municipalities.
Along with mayors, voters will also elect municipal council members in cities, muhtars (neighborhood/village administrative officers) and members of elder councils.
The last local elections were held on March 30, 2014, which saw the AK Party secure more than 45.5 percent of the vote.