German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Turkey on Thursday to answer questions raised by European observers over a referendum that expanded President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers and also said the EU must reflect on what future ties it wants with Ankara. A report by observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe found that up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in Turkey’s April 16 referendum, which ended in a narrow victory for Erdogan’s push for greater powers. “The Turkish government must measure itself based on this report and answer the questions raised in it,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament. “We will very carefully follow how Turkey deals with reports of possible irregularities.”
A village leader shoves four voting slips into a ballot box. An unknown arm marks three slips with a “yes” vote. An unknown hand adds five more. An election official validates a pile of voting slips — hours after they were meant to be validated. These are four of the scenes captured in unverified videos that have helped stoke accusations of voting fraud in polling stations across Turkey during Sunday’s referendum to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Erdogan’s “yes” campaign has claimed victory by a small margin — 51.4 percent to 48.6 — in a vote that further insulates the president from scrutiny and tightens his grip on one of the most influential countries in the region. But while Mr. Erdogan has turned his claimed victory into a political reality, the legitimacy of his win is still in question.
International election monitors have criticized a Turkish referendum that has brought sweeping new powers to the presidency, saying the campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the vote count was marred by late procedural changes. Observers from the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a joint statement on April 17 that the legal framework for the referendum “remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum.” Turkey’s Central Election Committee (CEC) late on April 16 declared the “yes” camp as the winner with 51.3 percent of votes.
Up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in Sunday’s Turkish referendum which ended in a tight ‘Yes’ vote for greater presidential powers, Alev Korun, an Austrian member of the Council of Europe observer mission, told ORF radio on Tuesday. The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, had already said the referendum was an uneven contest. Support for “Yes” dominated campaign coverage, and the arrests of journalists and closure of media outlets silenced other views, the monitors said. But Korun said there were questions about the actual voting as well.
Serbia’s electoral commission was forced to hold a televised recount of some votes after opposition challenger Sasa Jankovic disputed PM Aleksandar Vucic’s poll results in 25 constituencies. The Republic Electoral Commission recounted votes from two polling stations in front of TV cameras on Sunday after allegations of irregularities were raised by opposition presidential candidate Sasa Jankovic. The recount was urged by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who won last Sunday’s presidential elections and denies any electoral fraud. The recount of votes from the two polling stations showed that Vucic received four fewer votes than initially counted, but is unlikely to resolve opposition concerns about the vote.
Georgia (Sakartvelo): Many irregularities in second round of Georgia’s election for parliament | Democracy & Freedom Watch
In parts of Georgia, voters went to the polls again on Sunday in the second round of the parliamentary election. There were runoff contests in 50 single-seat districts, accounting for a third of the seats in the assembly. Voting took place against a background of some minor and a few serious irregularities. The outcome of today’s vote will decide if the election winner in the first round, Georgian Dream, will get enough seats to have what’s called a constitutional majority and usher in a ban on same-sex marriage and limit the president’s powers. The number of precincts open for voting was 2,229. Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA), said that by 14:00 their observers had noticed different types of violations. The Tbilisi-based organization filed 33 complaints and 25 notices today. There is tension in the village Kizilajo in Marneuli, where the results of the first round were abolished due to a riot-like incident. Georgian Dream and National Movement candidate are competing in this region.
Election Systems & Software (ES&S) has released a report on its findings related to errors in the Hill County Republican Primary. The report comes amidst an ongoing investigation by Attorney General Ken Paxton into irregularities with the vote totals reported in the election. Last month, Direct Action Texas discovered that the number of reported votes in the Hill County Republican Primary exceeded by more than 1700 the number of voters the county reported had shown up at the polls. ES&S, which supplies electronic voting machines and other election services to Hill County, was asked by the county to investigate the error. ES&S found that early voting ballot cast totals were incorrect by the same amount as the number of absentee ballots cast, and Election Day ballot cast totals were incorrect by the same number of paper ballots that were voted during early voting.
Voting machines in western Hidalgo County were “either faulty or tampered with” to rig the Democratic Party primary runoff election, according to a lawsuit filed Monday. Bail bondsman Arnaldo Corpus — who challenged Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Place 2 Marcos Ochoa in the primary — filed the lawsuit. Ochoa won 54 percent of 6,625 ballots cast, defeating Corpus, according to results published by the Hidalgo County Elections Department. Corpus, though, claims the Elections Department count isn’t correct.
Maryland: About 1,650 ballots handled improperly in Baltimore election, state review finds | Baltimore Sun
About 1,650 ballots cast in Baltimore’s primary election were handled improperly, a state review has found — prompting some to question the validity of the election results. The State Board of Elections concluded that 1,188 provisional ballots were inappropriately scanned into the vote tally on Election Day — without judges verifying that the voters were eligible — and 465 other provisional ballots were not considered. The board’s findings were released Monday. “In many ways, this is worse than what anybody thought,” said the Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, an activist with Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections, or VOICE. “Although we knew there was a problem, we did not know it was to this magnitude. The citizens deserve better.”
About 1,000 more votes were cast during Baltimore’s primary election than there were voters who checked in at the polls, an ongoing state review has found. State elections officials said Thursday that workers examining Baltimore’s election have uncovered “significant” problems. They have found more than 450 provisional ballots that were not considered by election judges. And nearly 800 provisional ballots — given to voters whose eligibility is in question — were improperly counted before eligibility was verified, officials said. Most of the problems were caused by untrained judges scanning ballots into the system that they shouldn’t have, said Linda H. Lamone, Maryland’s elections administrator. The state might not get to the bottom of every problem, she told the State Board of Elections. “There will be precincts that cannot be explained,” Lamone said. “We don’t know what happened. The numbers simply don’t match.”