Indonesians are turning up in droves at polling stations across the country. (Antara Photo/R. Rekotomo)

Indonesians Throng to the Polls, but Logistics Snafu Delays Voting in Key Jokowi Province

APRIL 17, 2019

Jakarta. Early reports are showing a high turnout in Indonesia's presidential and legislative elections on Wednesday (17/04), as the country goes to the polls from 7 a.m. this morning.

A total of 192.8 million people are registered to vote this year. The General Elections Commission (KPU) estimated a turnout rate of 75 percent of the total registered voters, up from 69 percent in the last presidential election in 2014.

Competing in the election is incumbent president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who had been leading in pre-election polls but whose laser focus on economic reforms and infrastructure development has been criticized for shunting aside human rights issues. 

His rival Prabowo Subianto, a former Army general with his own track record of human right violations, markedly differentiated himself from Jokowi by forming alliances with Islamic hardliners and hard-selling a protectionist economic platform. 

"This presidential election will determine the future of Indonesia for the next five years. We have to use our right to vote and do so according to our conscience," said Santi, 32, a resident of Bengkulu.

She turned up very early at her voting station, just after 7 a.m., when the station was scheduled to open.  

"I intentionally came earlier to the polling station so I don't get stuck in the queue. After casting my vote, I will go to the market to set up my shop," she said.

Santi's neighbor, Rangga, 18, said he was very enthusiastic to cast a vote for the first time.

"I will choose a president and legislative representatives who will take the side of the people," he said. 

First lady Iriana Widodo joined her husband in a polling station in Gambir, Central Jakarta. Jokowi's running mate, senior cleric Ma'ruf Amin, cast his vote in another voting station nearby in Central Jakarta.

Presiden Joko Widodo (kiri) bersama Ibu Negara Iriana Joko Widodo (kanan) menggunakan hak pilihnya di TPS 008, Gambir, Jakarta, Rabu (17/4/2019). ANTARA FOTO/Akbar Nugroho Gumay/aww
President Jokowi and first lady Iriana Widodo cast their vote in Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Prabowo's running mate Sandiaga Uno went to a polling station near his residence in South Jakarta. 

"I remind the public to come to the polling station as soon as possible, so they have enough time to vote," Sandiaga said. He said voters should expect long queues and watch out for the rain.

"In my station, the queue is about 45 minutes-one hour long," Sandiaga said. 

Reports from local media showed high turnouts in Aceh, Jambi, Makassar in South Sulawesi and in Jakarta. 

Delay in Papua 

Voting in hundreds of polling stations in Jayapura, Papua, was delayed for more than three hours due to a logistical snafu. 

"There is no ballot box and the officials are still waiting for the city's [electoral committee] to make an inspection," Jayapura resident Steve Dumbon told Suara Pembaruan on Wednesday.  

"This is the first time this has happened. In the gubernatorial election last year, all the logistics were ready before election day began," Steve said.

An empty voting station in Jayapura. (B1 Photo)

Jokowi won 73 percent of the votes in Papua in 2014. Since then he has sped up infrastructure development in the province. This year, Jokowi has said he expects to win 85 percent of the votes in the resource-rich province. 

Papua KPU chairman Theodorus Kosay has confirmed that voting at 300 polling stations in three sub-districts in South Jayapura will have to be postponed. "Voting will be done tomorrow," Theodorus said on Wednesday. 

He said the delay was caused by the KPU not having enough staff to prepare and sort the ballots.

The Indonesian elections are arguably the largest and most complex one-day elections in the world, so logistical mishaps are to be expected.   

The government prepared a budget of Rp 25 trillion ($1.8 billion) to run the elections, up four percent from Rp 24 trillion in 2014.

Most of the budget is spent on KPU operations, manpower and the logistics needed to organize voting in more than 17,000 islands prone to floods and earthquakes.