Minister Sets Sights on 2019 for Nationwide E-Voting
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi on Sunday said the country would not be ready for e-voting in 2014 but may be for the 2019 elections.
But some regional elections at the provincial, district and municipal levels may utilize the technology for the 2014 polls.
“I assure that it would be impossible to do it for the 2014 [national] election,” Gamawan told the Jakarta Globe. “However, if things are going smooth, it might be done for the 2019 election.”
The Constitutional Court in March approved the use of electronic voting in the country, effectively allowing Jembrana in Bali to become the first district to use the technology in its upcoming election. The district race had been initially scheduled for February but was delayed awaiting approval to use the e-voting system. No new date has been set.
Gamawan said the government would add the use of e-voting in the revision of the 2003 Regional Government Law that would be submitted to the House of Representatives this year for deliberation. However, for the national election law, Gamawan said it should be the prerogative of the House to make an amendment adding the new voting method.
Adam Schmidt, the Indonesia country director for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, told the Jakarta Globe that Indonesia could look to the Philippines’ recently held e-voting as an example of what technology can do to improve the electoral process.
Philippine election law expert Luie Tito Guia, a founder of the public-interest law group Libertas (Lawyer’s League for Liberty), said that e-voting had been adopted to prevent cheating at the result-consolidation level. The technology that cost 11.3 billion pesos (about $300 million) has largely been seen as effective in addressing issues of credibility in the tabulation and transmission of votes.
Schmidt said that technology could similarly help address two of the major problems for Indonesia’s national elections: voter registration and the tabulation and transmission of results.
But Guia added it was important for the government to ensure any system adopted was transparent and could be audited.
“There has to be a system in which voters can verify their votes,” he said.
“There has to be a clear back-up plan in case the system bounces down along the way …. There has to be a way in which paper copies of the result would be kept or stored so you have something to fall back on when there are problems.”
Guia also said that other stakeholders should be involved in the process, such as in a committee composed of information technology experts from various backgrounds to advise the election commission.
Gamawan said there were a lot of requirements to be fulfilled before e-voting can be introduced, including clearing up citizens registered in two provinces. Indonesia is planning to replace its current ID system with a nationwide electronic ID card by 2012, preventing double registrations.
The minister said that, considering the various backgrounds of represented across the country, the system may only be partially implemented. “Regions may freely choose whether to use the system or not; the election commission must ensure that this could be implemented,” he said.
He added that although the initial investment may seem large, the system would allow big savings afterward as it would do away with the costs of buying, transporting and securing bulky loads of paper for ballots.
“The initial capital might be big, but it will be a lot easier afterward,” he said. “But we need to look at the preparations first.”