Voting abroad and document distribution chaos.

In Turkey we are approaching a referendum for a major constitutional change. I’m not going to write about what the change is and how it impacts citizens’ lives, that’s my father’s job 🙂 Instead I’m going to write about how voting abroad for Turkish ex-pats is handled.

I’m only living abroad for ten years and I know before I left Turkey, there was a concept of voting on the border (which includes consulates and physical borders.) About ten years ago us, the Turkish ex-pats, were not allowed to vote anymore for any elections or referendums in Turkey. It looks like this is changing now for better I hope.

For the last few months emails are being forwarded between ex-pats, some major Turkish political, cultural organizations, web sites are spreading the word about this new right to be able to vote abroad. But the way this “spreading the word” is done in such a weird way that I am  feeling very uncomfortable to follow what is really going on.

So far I got 4 different emails pointing to 4 different web sites and none of them are official government web sites. When I go and read the content of the news about this, none of the articles are pointing to an official governmental word about voting abroad. Instead they unanimously talk about filling a form, and mailing it to your local consulate or the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality of Turkey.

The distribution of that form is the main issue here. You are filling a National Form that requests every bits of your identity. Especially this form has to be distributed by only Turkish Government. How can I trust a form that I download from any site?

All the sites I mentioned above, host the form and link to their version of the form. One site hosts it in MS Word format as a .doc file, the other hosts it in Adobe Acrobat format as a .pdf file. One site has a version with pretty graphics, the other one with straight text format… Come on!

(When I was trying to find different versions of the form on different web sites I realized one of those web sites was already hacked by a Turkish hacker group. Now can you trust this?)

I worked pretty much 4 years of my life trying to fix that type of issues with the Turkish government between 2000-2004, it looks like nobody learned anything on electronic government practices.

It’s time for Turkish government to create a central, secure repository for documents, and standardize all government related paperwork. Anything close to this is e-Konsolosluk web site (which was down when I was writing this entry) and that is only for consular services. How to do this is another topic which I will be writing in the near future.