Indonesia polls panel gears up for revotes, vote recounts in legislative elections in over 20 regions


JAKARTA: The General Elections Commission (KPU) is gearing up to hold revotes or vote recounts in over 20 regions across the country following a series of Constitutional Court rulings that annulled a variety of results of the February legislative elections.

The court this week finished deliberating on nearly 300 disputes in the February elections for seats on the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and provincial and regional legislative councils (DPRD) that were filed by unsuccessful political parties and candidates.

The plaintiffs challenged the election results announced by the KPU in March. The court ruled that the KPU must hold a revote in 20 regions within the next 21 to 45 days after finding that the election body mishandled the hosting of the February legislative elections in these areas.

These include several areas in Gorontalo province for the provincial DPRD race and all areas in West Sumatra for the DPD race.

The KPU national office and its regional offices are now preparing for the revotes and vote recounts.

“The revotes will be held without having candidates campaigning prior to the voting day, which is in line with prevailing regulations,” KPU commissioner Idham Kholik said on Wednesday (June 12), as quoted from Antara.

He said he has instructed regional KPU offices to inform voters in their respective areas about the revotes to ensure high turnouts.

“Everyone there has the right to vote so let them exercise their right,” he said.

Vote recounting, meanwhile, will be done in several areas, such as in an electoral district in Jember, East Java, for its DPRD election.

One of the disputes that attracted much public attention happened when candidates vied for four West Sumatra seats in the DPD. At the centre of the case was the failure of KPU West Sumatra office to include former corruption convict Irman Gusman on the ballot even though he was already declared eligible to run in the race by an administrative court.

In a ruling on Monday, the Constitutional Court ordered the KPU national office to hold a revote with Irman on the ballot.

Another notable case was in Gorontalo centreing on the failures of four big and mid-sized political parties, out of 24 parties competing in the election, to meet the minimum quota of 30 per cent for female candidates in one out of six electoral districts in the province.

The local election organisers allowed the four parties, the NasDem Party, Gerindra Party, the Democratic Party and the National Awakening Party (PKB), to contest the election for Gorontalo Legislative Council (DPRD Gorontalo) even though they did not field enough female candidates in the electoral district that covers two regencies.

Last week, the Constitutional Court ordered a revote in the two regencies within 45 days following the reading of the ruling. The court said the four political parties can participate in the revote if they nominate enough female candidates.

Constitutional law and electoral expert Feri Amsari said the high number of revotes ordered by the court showed that the organising of the elections by the KPU was “problematic”, adding that the poll agency should ensure fair and transparent revotes.

Feri predicted a lower turnout.

“Lower turnout is a reasonable consequence of a revote. Voters will think that their initial votes have gone to waste and in turn they will not show up at the polling stations for the revote,” Feri told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

“We need to encourage voters to vote through various means – an example of which should have been done by the court by ordering relevant institutions to investigate potential administrative violations or election crimes so they can punish election organizers found guilty for why the court ordered a revote," he said.

Fadli Ramadhanil of elections watchdog the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) said the revotes were a “slap in the face” for the KPU.

“It shows how unprofessional the election organisers were,” he said, urging the public to “keep tabs on how the election organisers hold the revotes”. - The Jakarta Post/ANN

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