Democracy is the loser, for now


 IO – Electoral fraud is perhaps the greatest effrontery to a nation’s democracy. There are no winners. Once the facts are uncovered, a leader that takes power in a fraudulent election is deemed illegitimate by the people and hence loses his ability to govern effectively. It is also an inherently unstable and unsustainable situation. From those who have had votes stolen from them, not only politicians lose—so do the voters. Their right to have their votes counted has been taken away. Hence, our voters and our democracy are the real losers if fraud is left unaddressed, as are the people who, in May 1998, fought valiantly for democracy to take root in Indonesia. 

Making charges of electoral fraud is a serious exercise. It must not be taken lightly, based on suspicion alone or given currency simply because we have lost. It must be based on facts that are unimpeachable. If the facts are presented and seen as valid, then it is the responsibility of the media and people—those 

 outside the power structure-to take those facts and apply them. Not doing so would be a gross injustice to our democracy. 

The international community, as well as the Jokowi administration, should know that the Prabowo-Sandi Campaign team’s complaint about electoral fraud is not an exercise in pointing fingers and assigning blame. It is not—as some falsely claim—an attempt to sow discord, which would serve nobody’s interest. As a nation, we should come together and maintain the peace. On the other hand, we must not allow politicians to sweep this problem under the rug or demonize those who ask for accountability. A key pillar of any democracy is accountability, and it is the right of all citizens to demand it. 

First and foremost, everybody should know that our evidence is based on the use of a simple instrument: the smartphone. Election observers from across the country, volunteers who wanted to help safeguard Indonesia’s democracy, took photographs of vote tallies that were recorded at each of the roughly 800,000 polling stations. Using those photographs, we have so far audited the results at 477,000 polling stations and we have uncovered 73,715 cases of incorrect C1 summary data being input into the so-called Situng of the National Elections Commission— which is 15.4% of the total audited to date. 

Besides the flagrant outright theft of votes, we have also seen blatant attempts to corrupt and manipulate our electoral system. This is equally unacceptable. 

In some cases, we can see irregularities were a consequence of a gross derelict of duty. Examples include the use of paper boxes to hold ballot papers, hence making it easier to destroy ballots. There were also numerous cases of a failure by the National Elections Commission to provide sufficient funding, training and equipment to polling stations, hence rendering them vulnerable to manipulation by criminal parties. And although the National Elections Commission had a budget of 25 trillion rupiah for IT support, IT experts concur there were grossly insufficient hardware and unsecured software used by the Commission, hence making it vulnerable to cyber-fraud. 

Second, there were many valid reasons for suspicion in the months before the election. One major concern was, unlike in previous elections, the government failed to invite any credible international monitors such as the Carter Center o secure the elections. Hence we were robbed of the possibility for the international community to see for themselves the irregularities that occurred on polling day. Most disturbing was the lack of response after the Prabowo team lodged a formal complaint to the National Election Commission about the voter registration roll, where statistical anomalies involving 17.5 million registered voters such as large numbers of people with the same birth date suggested the registration list was corrupted. Despite its promises to investigate, the Commission inexplicably delayed its investigations until just before polling day and failed to provide any convincing report or findings on this critical issue. 

Third, just prior to the election, there were also reports and complaints of coercive actions taken by security forces, whereby police used intimidation tactics with local government officials in an attempt to ensure their respective polling stations would favor the Jokowi ticket. On the day of the election there were events captured on video where many outraged voters and polling station officials were shown holding up pre-marked ballot paper in favor of Jokowi; and, in areas that were Prabowo strongholds, numerous voters were unable to vote due to a lack of ballot paper. 

It was noted that our election would be the largest and most complicated single-day election in modern history. But we must ask ourselves: why was it designed this way by the Jokowi administration and for what purpose? Previous elections were not so complicated, and we wisely held presidential and parliamentary elections on different dates. Perhaps now we know the answer—by making the elections complicated and almost impossible to manage properly, it would be easier to commit electoral fraud. 

Moving forward, it will continue to be our duty to collect and sort through the evidence. We would like to believe we will be able to have our electoral agencies and courts cooperate with us in a fair and impartial manner. One elegant solution would be for the government to agree to our request that a capable third party to conduct a forensic audit of this election and that such a party be acceptable by both the government and the members of the Prabowo-Sandi campaign team. This would be and ideal means of finally putting this critical issue to rest, but whether of not the government will agree to this reasonable and totally justifiable demand remains to be seen. 

Finally, we should remember this: this story does not end on 22 May, which is when the National Election Commission is scheduled to conclude its so-called real count. Instead of paying heed to timelines dictated to us by the government, those who believe this election should be deemed invalid must present their case with all the facts to the public in the most transparent manner. Ultimately, it is for the people to decide what must be done—after all, a real democracy is for and by the people, not the elite.