Turkish Constitution ensures that elections will be carried out under the general management and inspection of the judicial bodies. However, the Constitution does not authorize courts in this regard and it has regulated a separate organisation, namely election boards. In election boards, judges serve in decision-making positions, however these boards are completely independent from the courts in terms of both their structure and decisions. Election boards are structured in three levels; the Supreme Election Board as a central organization for all country, provincial election boards at provincial level and city election boards at city level are established. A. Supreme Election Board The Supreme Election Board is established as the final decision-making authority with regard to the issues on elections. However, it is not regarded among the supreme courts in the Constitution.
1. Structure The SEB consists of the Board and the administrative units; – Board: It is the decision-making body in the SEB. The Board consists of 7 regular and 4 substitute members together with the President and the Deputy President. It decides on cases with regard the issues on elections. There is no contention of unconstitutionality or appeal against its decisions. Therefore, it serves as a supreme authority on the issues of elections. – President and Deputy President: The President and the Deputy President are elected by the regular and substitute members from among themselves. The President or the Deputy President in the absence of the President chairs the Board.
Turkish Judicial System – Bodies, Duties and Officials – Directorate General for Electoral Registers (the DGER): The SEB is a decision-making authority for elections and the proceedings on the elections are carried out by the DGER. The establishment purpose of the DGER is to carry out the tasks, particularly IT services related with elections – Department of Administrative and Financial Affairs: This department was established to carry out the secretarial tasks, administrative and financial management of the SEB.
2. Duties Almost in all situations that include the fact of “election” in laws or other regulations, there are duties assigned to the SEB. The primary duties include tasks and operations related to the elections of the President of the Republic, members of the GNAT and local governments. Its duties are as follows; – The SEB serves as the final decision-making authority in terms of the objections against the decisions of the provincial and district election boards; decisions on the admissibility of a candidate and validity of an election are examples of decisions rendered within this scope. – The SEB carries out the tasks related to the elections across the country through the DGER; identification of the election districts and electorate, keeping up with the election calendar are the duties within this scope. – The SEB is also assigned to answer the questions about the elections asked by the provincial and district election boards.
3. Officials Members and administrative personnel serve under the SEB: – Members: The SEB consists of 7 regular and 4 substitute members in total together with the President and the Deputy President. 6 of the members are elected by the Grand Plenary Assembly of the Court of Cassation and Turkish Judicial System – Bodies, Duties and Officials 5 of the members are elected by the Plenary Assembly of Council of State from among their own members. Elected members are settled as regular and substitute members by lot. Substitute members participate in the meetings to achieve the quorum only in the absence of the regular members. – Auxiliary personnel: Auxiliary personnel serve in the DGER and the Department of Administrative and Financial Affairs. Their duties include ensuring the coordination of the election works across the country in line with the decisions of the SEB. Among them, senior managers are appointed with the decision of the SEB and the rest by the President.
B. Provincial Election Boards Provincial election boards are electoral institutions established in provinces to make decisions on elections.
1. Structure These boards consist of a president, two members and two substitute members appointed from among the judges. They serve for two years after their appointment. The offices for provincial electoral registers are established to carry out the administrative works with regard to the elections. The offices, in which auxiliary personnel serve, act in accordance with the decisions of the provincial election boards.
2. Duties Provincial election boards are established to carry out the electoral works at provincial level. These boards are the decision-making authorities on the electoral issues in provinces in line with the principles identified and the decisions taken by the SEB. They are also responsible to review the appeals filed against the decisions of city election boards. Turkish Judicial System – Bodies, Duties and Officials Offices for provincial electoral registers carry out the office services and other administrative tasks related with elections in their provinces.
3. Officials Judges serve in the provincial election boards. The most senior judge serving in the province becomes the president of the board and the following two senior judges are the members of the board. Auxiliary personnel serve in the offices for provincial electoral registers affiliated to the provincial election boards. They hold the position of civil servants and are appointed by the President of the SEB.
C. City Election Boards These are electoral institutions established in each city center, including the minor cities, to make decisions on elections in their cities.
1. Structure Unlike provincial election boards, city election boards have a mixed structure. The most senior judge in the city chairs the board. 6 regular and 6 substitute members of the board are elected from among the representatives of political parties and the public officials serving in the city. 4 regular and 4 substitute members are elected from among the representatives of the political parties, 2 regular and 2 substitute members and other regular or substitute members that are absent for any reason are settled by lot from among the public officials serving in the city and having the conditions prescribed in the law. As a rule, each city has a city election board. However, more than one city election board may be established in the cities with the population exceeding 200.000. City election board other than the provincial election board is also established in the central city of the province. Turkish Judicial System – Bodies, Duties and Officials
2. Duties City election boards make decisions on the issues related to the elections at city level. These boards are assigned to carry out the proceedings on elections in the cities and to make the required decisions. They make decisions by evaluating the applications filed by politicians, political parties and citizens. Office services and other administrative tasks are carried out through the offices for city electoral registers. These offices serve under the inspection of the head of the city election board. As a rule, the decisions are taken by the city election board. However, it is regulated by the law that, in certain cases, the head of the board makes decision. 3. Officials City election boards are chaired by judges. The most senior judge in the city carries out this duty. If he/she is appointed to other location by the HCoJP, the duty of chairing the board will change accordingly. Members are the representatives of the political parties and the public officials serving in the city. The officials except from the judges are not permanent officials. They serve during the electoral process and are paid for the period they serve.