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Jakarta Post

Mobile apps encourage public to monitor foul play

  • Bagus BT Saragih and Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA /CILEGON, BANTEN   /   Thu, July 3, 2014   /  09:57 am

During a campaign event in Cilegon, Banten, on Tuesday, presidential candidate Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo expressed his concern about possible vote-buying in the election.

'€œWe have established the so-called Anti Election Cheat Task Force comprising thousands of volunteers across Indonesia,'€ Jokowi said. According to him, the task force'€™s main duty is to anticipate vote-buying in the last minutes of campaigning. '€œMembers of this task force will keep their eyes open 24 hours.'€

The head of Jokowi'€™s campaign team, Tjahjo Kumolo, said his camp would deploy 1,135,989 official witnesses to all 479,183 polling stations across the country.

But this is still far from enough. Jokowi'€™s camp needs the help of his volunteers.

Local mobile application developers have gained momentum ahead of the July 9 presidential election amid fears among activists and volunteer groups about cheating on voting day, which many predict will see a very tight race.

While appointed witnesses at the polling stations (TPS) are still deemed prone to manipulation, not to mention tardiness given how vast the country is, mobile applications offer real time monitoring with the participation of the general public.

'€œBy using cell phones, anybody can voluntarily monitor the voting process from the beginning until the counting at any polling station,'€ said Muhammad Hidayat, a representative from the so-called '€œCommunity of University Alumni'€ that has launched the Movement of 2 Million Volunteer Witnesses.

'€œWe are volunteers who are promoting the campaign of public participation to ensure that vote-buying or any other type of foul play does not happen,'€ added the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla volunteer.

The movement, which was launched on Sunday, targets 2 million users of its mobile application, called iWitness.

Only 1.34 megabytes in size, the app will consume little memory of most of today'€™s smartphones. ForeverApps, its developer, has made versions for BlackBerry, Android, Symbian and Java operating systems.

The application requires users to register with valid cell phone numbers. Once registered, anybody can use the application to not only submit real counting at a polling station, but also capture photographs and videos of the process.

Registration can also be made at 2jutarelawan.com. '€œThrough this website, we are promoting an awareness of the importance of taking part in election monitoring,'€ he said.

Each user submission will contain information on the location of the sender, thanks to the geo-tagging feature.

This kind of proof will be very strong and will be documented on the Internet and in the public domain in real time, said Hidayat.

In case users are in locations where the Internet is unavailable, text reports can be sent using SMS from the users'€™ registered cell phone numbers.

As of Wednesday, the Android version had been downloaded more than 500 times since it was released on June 25.

Other mobile applications with similar purposes are available, such as MataMassa, Pantau Pemilu Sendiri, Pantau Pemilu and Pemilu Bersih.

Other civil society groups are using conventional social media platforms for similar purposes.

Dozens of NGOs grouped under the '€œPeople'€™s Decree'€ (Dekrit Rakyat), for example, have called on people to post photographs or videos of any irregularities or foul play to Dekrit Rakyat accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Path and Instagram. A website, dekritrakyat.or.id, has also been launched to support the movement.

'€œThe people'€™s participation is crucial to preventing the upcoming election from being a democratic failure,'€ said Ray Rangkuti from the Indonesian Civil Society Circle, one of the NGOs.

Golkar Party politician Nurul Arifin from the camp of rival candidate Prabowo Subianto said that her camp was also gearing up to deploy witnesses to monitor voting. '€œWe don'€™t want the votes for Prabowo to just disappear,'€ she said.

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