Potential for Jakarta Poll Violations, Including ‘Ghost Voters,’ Still a Threat, Watchdog Says
Lenny Tristia Tambun
Poll watchdogs have flagged the high potential for campaign and electoral violations ahead of next week’s runoff ballot in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Yustrifiadi, national coordinator of the People’s Voter Education Network (JPPR), said on Thursday that voters needed to watch out for several problem areas that if not monitored could undermine the legitimacy of the election.
He said the main problem area centered on the voter list, which was the source of much controversy and debate in the lead-up to and after the first round of voting on July 11.
Before the vote, five of the six candidates in the running filed complaints about the high number of ineligible or nonexistent voters in the list drawn up by the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD).
They pointed out that the figure of seven million eligible voters was inconsistent with the Home Affairs Ministry’s announcement that it would issue just 5.6 million electronic identity cards for the capital.
Only bearers of Jakarta ID cards who are aged 17 or older, are mentally fit and are not in prison are eligible to vote in the election. Jakarta resident under the age of 17 who are married are also eligible to vote.
Watchdogs attributed the discrepancy to “ghost voters,” people who either do not exist or else are ineligible to vote, although the KPUD claimed it was a clerical error in data entry.
Only the incumbent, Fauzi Bowo, did not complain about the list.
With the voter list little changed for the second round of the vote on Sept. 20, Yustrifiadi warned that the issue could once again overshadow the poll, and urged the KPUD to fix it ahead of time.
He said another source of potential controversy was the unregulated use of campaign funds by the camps of Fauzi and his challenger, Solo Mayor Joko Widodo.
He said that with no caps on spending for the runoff, there were fears that the rival teams would shell out huge sums during campaign events that could be construed as vote-buying attempts.
Yustrifiadi also cited the possibility of civil servants and other officials being roped in to campaign on behalf of the incumbent — a practice prohibited by electoral laws but frequently seen in regional elections across the country.
Ahead of the first round of the vote, there were numerous complaints by residents about neighborhood and community unit chiefs ordering them to vote for Fauzi. The governor went on to garner 34 percent of votes, with Joko coming out ahead with 43 percent.
“Given the potential for problems, it’s important that we have greater voter oversight of the entire electoral process,” Yustrifiadi said.
“That’s the only way we can achieve a quality election. Indeed, voter oversight should be a mandatory element in all elections.”