The Jakarta Post
Home Minister Tito Karnavian has denied that any COVID-19 transmission clusters have emerged from the ongoing preparations for December’s simultaneous regional elections, adding that organizers are enforcing additional protocols to ensure the polls will be safe.
Tito said that organizers had conducted individual verification for candidates between June 12 and June 24, which he said was one of the preparation stages predicted to be most prone to COVID-19 transmission.
However, he claimed that there had been no reports of transmission from the verification process.
Additionally, no clusters were reported when the ministry performed door-to-door checks to update data on the estimated 105 million voters between July 15 and Aug. 13.
“I have not heard of any transmission clusters from this activity,” Tito said in a press conference after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Amid reports of candidates violating health regulations while registering for the elections, Tito said that the lack of time to communicate the health protocols effectively could have lead to violations, or that some parties may have intentionally violated the regulations as a “show of force”.
To ensure safe elections, KPU chief Arief Budiman said during the conference that organizers would limit the number of attendees allowed at campaign meetings and face-to-face town hall debates to 100 and 50, respectively, while others would be required to participate virtually
The KPU will also limit the maximum number of voters at polling sites to 500, and will arrange voting schedules to prevent crowds, in addition to providing masks, face shields and gloves for organizers and voters.
“We will also ask organizers to take a COVID-19 rapid test to ensure that they are not infected,” Arief said.
Furthermore, Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) head Abhan said that additional legal tools were needed to enforce heavier sanctions against health protocol violators, such as using laws on health quarantines and infectious disease outbreaks.
On Dec. 9, 270 regions will hold simultaneous elections, including nine provinces, 224 regencies and 37 municipalities. Some, however, have raised concerns that holding the elections during the coronavirus pandemic could increase transmissions.