Bawaslu unready to implement health protocols in upcoming Regional Elections

KPU and Bawaslu staff are uncertain and unprepared to uphold COVID permanent procedures during the upcoming elections. Neither of them has a unified understanding of the procedures for COVID-19 prevention.(Photo: DOC. DWI NARWOKO/MERDEKA.COM)

IO – Based on the results of the Elections Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) election simulation that the General Elections Commission (KPU) held at the Regency of Indramayu on Saturday, 29 August 2020, DKPP member Alfitra Salam concludes that neither the KPU nor the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) is ready to implement proper COVID-19 pre˝ˇvention protocols in the Simultaneous Regional Elections upcoming on 9 December 2020. “KPU and Bawaslu staff are still uncertain. They are not completely prepared to enforce permanent COVID procedures during the upcoming elections. Neither of them has unified understanding of the procedures for COVID-19 prevention and the reasoning behind them,” he said after the simulation was completed. 

Alfitra notes most significantly that social distancing was not optimal, as the simulation was still crowded. Furthermore, there were still babies and children at the voting booths. “The Simulation further shows that electoral organizers are still uncertain about job division. For example, they don’t know who has the authority to disperse the crowds from voting booths,” he said. 

The results of the observation indicate that the socialization of the contents of Presidential Instruction Number 6 of 2020 concerning the Improvement of Health Protocol Discipline and Enforcement in order to Prevent and Control COVID-19 is suboptimal, even though the officers of the Municipal Police (“Satpol PP”) and of the National Army and National Police have the authority to uphold this Instruction in Ring 1 and Ring 3 respectively. Alfitra further stated that KPU and Bawaslu should follow up on the findings and resolve the issues soon, because organizing Regional Elections involves more than just the technicality of voting itself – there are still issues to be monitored during grace period campaign etc. “Both KPU and Bawaslu must perfectly understand what to uphold in terms of the COVID-19 discipline, and how. They still have not dealt with issues relating to grace period campaigns,” he said. 

KPU Regulations concerning Regional Elections during the COVID-19 Non-Natural Disaster Condition regulates the distance between waiting chairs for voters at a minimum of 1 meter. Earlier, President Joko Widodo requested that the 2020 Regional Elections be held in a democratic, fair, and honest manner, and in compliance with the necessary health protocol discipline as well. The health protocol must be implemented in each step of the Regional Elections as the new norm. 

Swab Test Requirement 

Separately, KPU Chairman Arief Budiman plans to add the COVID-19 swab testing to the requirement for all Regional Head Candidates planning to enter the 2020 Regional Elections as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. KPU is also suggesting to the House (DPR) and the Government a revision of KPU Regulation Number 6 of 2020 concerning the Further Procedures for Electing Regional Heads Simultaneously during the COVID-19 Disaster. This revision is necessary in order to be able to include the swab test requirement in the Regulation. “We have obtained input relating to the importance and necessity of performing the swab test on Candidate Pairs, and we suggest that one KPU Regulation, i.e. KPU Regulation Number 6 of 2020, be revised” he said. 

Arief states that KPU has completed the necessary data review and match for the 2020 Regional Elections. It has also followed up on Bawaslu findings about the data in the review and match process, i.e. that the 73,130 voters who were taken out of the 2019 Voters’ List for failing to satisfy requirements would be included in the 2020 Regional Elections Voters’ List. 

16 Hours 

Meanwhile, Bawaslu member Mochammad Afifuddin states that the 2020 Regional Elections will take much longer than ordinary elections, as there will be a need to strictly impose Coronavirus prevention protocols at the voting booths. This is borne out in the recent KPU simulation. “It will take much longer in the voting booths. At the KPU simulation the other day, we noted that each voter takes 2 minutes to vote. KPU has also issued KPU Regulations concerning Regional Elections during the COVID-19 Non-Natural Disaster Condition that stipulates the number of voters allowed in a single voting booth at 500 persons. Therefore, having 500 voters vote will take about 16 hours, while we only have 6 hours to spare,” he said in the online discussion on held by the Formappi in July. “Among the things that will slow down the voting is the issuance of disposable gloves to voters who come to the voting booths. They will only be requested to fill in attendance and show their e-ID to officials afterwards. We have informed KPU that this additional process will lengthen the process.” 

Bawaslu has also informed KPU of its need to anticipate the potential of crowding thanks to voter queues to the voting booths because of this regulation. Therefore, he suggests that the KPU of the 270 electoral regions should provide bigger voting booths in order to accommodate physical distancing requirements between voters. “This is because the queues need to be held at a distance of at least a meter or something between each voter, unlike during normal conditions,” Afif said. (dan)