The Jakarta Post
As tensions mount surrounding the official vote count for the presidential election, ordinary people across the country and internationally are volunteering their free time to monitor the national recapitulation process, to help ensure a fair and accurate final electoral outcome.
Grassroots networks of volunteers have been collaborating with one another to analyze the slew of ballot records that have been gathered from polling stations nationwide.
The records, known as C1 forms, are vote recapitulation documents from individual polling stations across the archipelago that are uploaded by local poll administrators (KPPS) on to the General Elections Commission (KPU) website for the commission to eventually determine the winner of the election.
In addition, the C1 forms are freely available for public access, according to KPU Regulation No. 23/2014.
In an election that has generated massive public engagement, citizen participation has taken a new turn.
Many people have been helping the KPU in its monitoring of results in order to prevent fraud or foul play, by sifting through thousands of C1 forms to uncover irregularities, which are either reported to the KPU, posted online for public consumption, or both.
'We [volunteers] try to find the C1 forms that appear strange, that have something wrong with them,' said Dhyta Caturani, an unofficial Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo campaigner turned volunteer election vote-count monitor, along with a group of 20 or so friends.
The process has been almost entirely crowd sourced, making it easy for anyone, whether in Indonesia or overseas, to join the collective effort of monitoring the election results.
Social media has played a large role in assisting the electoral scrutiny. One such example is the the Jaga Suara Pemilu (Guard the Votes) community, which allows group members to upload photos of C1 documents to a community Facebook page. The community then attempts to match the uploaded C1 documents with the equivalent records on the KPU's website, keeping a eye out for oddities.
'We respect the KPU's transparency and hope that it will also be open in responding to our reports. The KPU has been very responsive and accessible [for citizens]. We hope it will follow up on our reports,' said Merlyn, one of Jaga Suara Pemilu's cofounders.
Merlyn told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the Facebook page currently had 15 administrators ' including herself ' who were spread across Indonesia, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and the US, while thousands of people had uploaded photos of C1 forms and dozens were regularly checking the page.
A number of electoral fraud allegations have surfaced over the past week, aided by the assistance of this independent citizen analysis.
Dhyta noted how 17 polling stations in East Java had reported to the KPU that not a single ballot was cast for Jokowi, which seemed very dubious.
'When we [the volunteers] checked, we found that the witnesses hadn't signed the C1 forms,' she said.
'There were a lot like that: completely blank and empty C1 forms,' she added.
It is standard practice that when a ballot is cast, witnesses sign off for given voters.
Many of the unofficial monitors hope that the election fervor will carry on beyond the election period and spur regular citizen engagement and participation in Indonesia's fledgling democracy.
Dhyta said people could not tune out if, as quick-count results suggest, Jokowi was elected president. 'It is our responsibility, our duty, to keep an eye on him, and we will not stay silent if he does bad things in the future as president,' she said.
'We really want to maintain the ongoing reform process,' Merlyn said. (dwa)
' the writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post