Cypriots who ran for MEP in Sunday’s vote have said they will take to the courts to challenge the legitimacy of the elections, after many eligible Turkish Cypriot voters were prevented from participating due to a bureaucratic cock-up. Under an amendment to the election law, passed last March, some 90,000 Turkish Cypriots aged 18 and above holding a Republic of Cyprus ID card and residing in the occupied areas would be automatically granted voting rights, with no need to register in the electoral roll. In contrast, Turkish Cypriots aged 18 and above with a Republic of Cyprus ID card but residing in areas controlled by the government of Cyprus needed to register in order to be eligible to vote The amendment thus made automatic eligibility conditional on one’s residential address. With the new law, 58,637 Turkish Cypriots automatically gained the right to vote in the European elections – those who had their address of residence in the north recorded by the authorities. All citizens of the Republic have the right to vote, but have to apply to be included in the electoral roll on reaching the age of 18.
Many claim that when Turkish Cypriots first began filling out applications to obtain Republic of Cyprus ID cards, information was transferred to the government database incorrectly. Instead of inputting applicants’ residential addresses, clerks seem to have been inputting their places of birth – in the government-controlled areas.
As a result some 30,000 Turkish Cypriot residents of the occupied areas whose correct residential address in the north was never entered into the database, show up on the system as residents of the government-controlled areas. Having been told that they would be automatically included in the electoral roll, they never applied to register as new voters in the same way as Greek Cypriots are required to do so.