IO – The next simultaneous Regional Elections will be held on 9 December 2020, in 9 provinces, 224 regencies, and 37 townships. The public is keeping watch on these Elections, as they are being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministry of Home Affairs’ General Secretary Muhammad Hudori stated that 12 out of the 15 stages in the Regional Elections process have been successfully executed: “We are currently in the 12th stage of the Elections, i.e. the 71-day campaign period from 26 September to 5 December 2020. The next stages are voting, vote count, vote announcement, and finally, resolution of Regional Elections violations and disputes,” Hudori said representing Minister of Home Affairs Tirto Karnavian in the “Clean and Safe Regional Elections” Webinar held on Monday (09/11/2020).
Voters’ participation has always fluctuated, especially now since the Regional Elections are being held amid a pandemic. The Ministry of Home Affairs set the voters’ participation target for 2020 Simultaneous Regional Elections at 77.5%, with a total of 1,000,359,152 voters listed in the Final Voters’ List (Daftar Pemilih Tetap – “DPT”). “Voting participation level in Regional Elections always fluctuates. 70% of voters voted in 2015Regional Elections, while 74.5% voted in 2017 and 73.24% voted in 2018. As we hope for a 77.5% voter participation this year, it is extremely important for us to socialize Regional Elections to citizens despite our still being in a pandemic,” Hudori said.
Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – “KPU”) Commissioner Pramono Ubaid Tanthowi explains several strategies the Commission will perform near the 2020 Simultaneous Regional Elections. The first strategy is to massively socialize the implementation of health protocols. Second, to integrate health protocols into Election Organizer Group (Kelompok Penyelenggara Pemungutan Suara – “KPPS”) officials’ training materials. Third, to increase the number of voting and vote count with health protocol simulations in voting spots. Fourth, to intensify coordination among multistage enforcers to impose stricter sanctions to Regional Elections participants who violate health protocols. “Law enforcers are now much more intense in their enforcement of health protocols and their punishment of violators. Next is to cook up strategies with the COVID-19 Mitigation Task Force and regional health offices to anticipate emergency situations,” he said.
Commissioner Pramono went on to describe 15 new items to be found in voting booths at 2020 Regional Elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first thing is the number of voters allowed in each individual booth – each booth can only accept 500 voters. “We are reducing the number of voters in voting booths. In Indonesia, the maximum number of voters in voting booths used to be 800 voters. However, with a maximum of only 500 voters allowed this Regional Elections, consequently we will need to increase the number of voting booths,” he said.
The second to fifth new things cover the regulation of voter arrival, prohibition to get physically close, prohibition against shaking hands, and obligation to wash hands before and after voting. The sixth and seventh are the obligation to arrive at voting booths wearing masks and the provision of plastic gloves in the voting booths for voters. The eighth and ninth are the obligation for voting booth staff to wear facial protection, and the provision of replacement masks for them. Tenth to fifteenth, Voters must bring their own writing implements, the provision of dry tissues, the checking of temperature for arriving voters, the disinfection of voting booths, the use of drop ink while voting, and finally, the provision of special booths for those who are ill. “We need to reassure the people that our voting booths are safe, that we have specially prepared the booths for everyone’s safety,” he said.
Pramono further admits that the COVID-19 pandemic reduces the public’s access to direct knowledge of their Candidate Regional Heads, as Candidate Pairs are encouraged to perform online campaigning. Even if physical meeting campaigns are held, they are severely limited by health protocols. “This is especially true when Candidate Pairs are not creative in their use of information technology. Consequently, the public has less access to information concerning the Candidate Pair’s vision, mission, and programs,” he said.
Pramono went on to say that this is one of the biggest challenges that affect the quality of democracy in the 2020 Regional Elections, alongside increased levels of job dismissals and poverty. These conditions increase the potential of money politics, which
may include potential misuse of social aid, whether by incumbents or challengers, whether in the form of money or basic necessities. Online campaigning with the help of social media is a ripe territory for hoaxes, slander, and race and religion-based badmouthing. The Large-Scaled Social Restriction (Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar – “PSBB”) in place also weakens public observation and monitoring. Finally, possible reduction in voters’ participation is also a. huge challenge.
Too Many Violations
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Election Supervisory Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilu – “Bawaslu”), Abhan, stated that 1,315 health protocol violations have been recorded within the past 40 days of campaign period. Bawaslu noted. 237 health protocol violations on 26. September-5 October, 375 new violations on 6-15 October, and a further 306 violations on 16-25 October. By. the latest records, 397 new violations occurred on 26 October-4 November. Bawaslu performed 141 mass meeting dispersions within the 40 days of campaigning and issued 909 written reprimands. The increase in health protocol violations goes hand in hand with the increase in the number of physical meeting campaigns, 55,877 of them being held so far this year. In stark contrast, there are never more than 100 online campaigns held every 10 days.
Abhan further states that Bawaslu has disciplined many campaign presentation equipment violators alongside the Public Order Enforcers (Satuan Polisi Pamong Praja – “Satpol PP”). “During the 40 days of the 2020 Regional Elections campaigns so far, Regency, Municipal, and Provincial Bawaslu Offices have imposed sanctions on at least 164,536 units of campaign presentation equipment in violation of regulations. We perform this act with the local Satpol PP in at least 151 regencies and townships,” he said. (Dan)