Voter List, Illicit Campaign Still Issues Days Before Jakarta Polls

By webadmin on 12:42 pm Jul 09, 2012
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Ronna Nirmala & Ezra Sihite

The Jakarta General Elections Commission on Sunday removed 21,000 ineligible voters from its list, following an order from an honors committee two days earlier.

The Election Organizers Ethics Council (DKPP) gave Dahliah Umar, the chairwoman of the poll commission (KPUD) a written warning and ordered her to revise the final voters list for the Jakarta gubernatorial election, set for Wednesday.

Dahliah’s office previously noted that 21,000 people were registered more than once in the list but chose not to do anything about it, arguing that the final verification process would be done at each poll station on election day.

KPUD working committee chairman Aminullah said his office respected the DKPP decision and immediately revised the final voters list, which earlier had nearly 7 million voters.

The revision is not likely to appease criticism from the majority of candidates on this week’s ballot.

The candidates, excluding incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo, pointed out that the figure of 7 million eligible voters identified by the KPUD 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. Jakartans under the age of 17 who are married are also eligible.

Watchdogs have attributed the discrepancy to “ghost voters,” people who do not exist or are ineligible to vote.

“There will not be any drastic reduction or increase in the number of voters. If it is done, it would be breaking the rules and regulations,” Aminullah said without elaborating what rules the KPUD would be breaking if such measures were taken.

Aminullah said instructing voters to dip their little fingers onto permanent ink was more than enough to stop people from casting their votes twice and dispel suspicions of ghost voters.

“Officials will examine people’s fingers before they cast their votes,” he said.

Six pairs of candidates are vying for the governor and deputy governor posts in this election, including two independent candidates: economist Faisal Basri and retired general Hendardji Soepandji.

Faisal said his campaign crew had teamed up with that of Hendardji to monitor Wednesday’s election.

“We have 5,000 to 7,500 volunteers and if we combine them with [Hendardji’s] volunteers, there will be more than 10,000, if God is willing,” Faisal said. “Both of us are independent [candidates]; we must trust one another and stick together.”

Separately, Indonesia Corruption Watch urged the Jakarta Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) to expand its definition of vote buying from giving cash to voters to the proffering of other benefits as well. ICW researcher Abdullah Dahlan said candidates have been trying to disguise vote buying as free health services, donations and other benefits, to avoid Panwaslu’s detection.

Panwaslu, he said, must also assess advertisements sanctioned by Fauzi Bowo’s administration that carry the governor’s image, and therefore could constitute campaigning.

Abdullah said the Jakarta government’s advertising expenditure had ballooned from Rp 7.5 billion ($795,000) last year to Rp 28 billion this year. The Jakarta administration has also inflated its budget for donations and grants to charitable organizations, he claimed.

Panwaslu Jakarta chief Ramdansyah admitted his office was having problems cracking down on illicit campaigning due to lack of regulations prohibiting them.

The election’s campaign period officially ended on Saturday and by law all banners, flags, posters and advertisements had to be removed and dismantled.

But Ramdansyah said there was nothing he could do about advertisements sanctioned by the Jakarta government that carry the governor’s face.

“[Fauzi] is the governor and he has the authority” to put up such advertisements, the Panwaslu chief said.