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Jakarta Post

Respect electoral process

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, April 20, 2019   /   07:49 am
Respect electoral process Voters show their finger after making the right to vote in one of the polling stations (TPS) in the Rasuna Apartment area, Setiabudi, Jakarta, April 17 2019. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

It is with great relief that the 2019 elections — described as the world’s most complicated single-day poll — are behind us. But we are only halfway through this democratic marathon, with the General Elections Commission (KPU) scheduled to announce the official vote-counting results on May 22.

Several regions, such as South Nias in North Sumatra and Tolikara and Lanny Jaya in Papua, are still slated to vote on Saturday after experiencing logistical problems on election day.

Millions of people, including vacationers, are keeping track of quick counts while ballots from across the country are delivered to election committees at the district, regency and city levels for the official, manual recapitulation under the watch of the KPU.

The commission’s real-time count, as displayed on its official website, is naturally very slow. The turnout on Wednesday was estimated at an unprecedented 80 percent of over 192 million eligible voters, each of whom cast their ballots for the presidency, and national and local representative councils. Therefore, a single polling station with, say, 200 voters, dealt with up to 1,000 ballots that had to be manually counted until the early hours of Thursday.

After witnessing the hard work and credibility of local polling station committees, mostly comprising ordinary citizens, most people are able to accept the results — even if it means conceding that their preferred candidate lost.

The political elite should emulate the sense of sportsmanship and trust we are seeing at the grass roots, where families, friends and communities are trying to get along after months of passionately expressing their support for their respective candidates.

Early quick-count results by pollsters and the KPU’s ongoing tally have triggered joy among candidates and political parties who are in the lead.

Indeed, past elections have revealed how close pollsters’ results can be to the KPU’s final tally. There is nothing wrong with celebrating one’s victory — as long as it does not spark conflicts between supporters or, even worse, violence toward on-duty election organizers.

For presidential and legislative candidates, now is the time to gather as much evidence as possible should they want to contest the results. This would be their most valuable contribution to let the rest of us move on as almost all election disputes have been solved peacefully by the Constitutional Court.

Throwing around allegations of “partisan” election organizers and raising threats of using “people power” dismiss the meticulous work of 7.2 million election volunteers who have worked long hours for very little pay. There have been reports of these “democracy martyrs” — as they are being called — falling ill. Even worse, at least six have reportedly died of exhaustion.

The peaceful election day was the result of voters’ and polling staffs’ collective effort to ensure everyone could exercise their voting rights.

Let’s ensure that every vote counts and remind candidates and political elites — including political party leaders — that they must keep the peace. There are still so many issues needing urgent attention across the archipelago.