The presence of independent watchdogs is more crucial than ever, amid intensifying attempts to undermine the election results. (Antara Photo/Mohamad Hamzah)

Guardians of the Elections, Assemble!

BY :CHRISTIAN LEE

APRIL 05, 2019

Jakarta. You may have made up your mind already on your choice of candidate and cleared your schedule for this month's election, but you can always level up your participation a notch by volunteering.

Kawal Pemilu Jaga Suara, a non-partisan election watchdog, is has vacancies across the archipelago for volunteers willing to sacrifice a little of their time and a few megabytes of their data plans to ensure the integrity of the polls in the world's fourth-largest democracy.

"We invite the public to be present at all 809,500 polling stations throughout Indonesia as volunteers. Let's guard the presidential, regional, provincial and district elections," said Ruly Achdiat, one of the watchdog's initiators.

According to Ruly, there are three reasons to keep a close eye on the 2019 elections.

First, Indonesian elections are complex and among the world's largest. Second, this is the first time the presidential and legislative elections are held simultaneously. Third, fair election results will increase public trust in the electoral process.

Volunteers across Indonesia can upload completed copies of C1 forms, which contain vote tallies at polling stations, to kawalpemilu.org, a website maintained by the election watchdog. They can then monitor the vote recapitulation process through the website. 

"The C1 form contains the most authentic data, because the calculation is done in public. It is difficult to manipulate, because it has many indicators of authenticity, such as holograms, names of polling stations, subdistricts and wards. Even handwriting is an indicator," Ruly said at press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.

"Each volunteer can monitor more than one polling station," he added. 

Ruly hopes the public will be more involved in monitoring the vote recapitulation process for the 2019 elections.

Ainun Najib, a software engineer, founded the independent watchdog, composed of online-based civilian volunteers, on July 10, 2014. It is now among several independent organizations focused on ensuring that elections are conducted fairly and transparently. And the presence of these watchdogs is more crucial than ever, amid intensifying attempts to undermine the election results. 

Last month, the campaign team of presidential contender Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno claimed to have discovered 17.5 million questionable names on the official voter's roll.

Ahmad Riza Patria, a spokesman for their campaign, said all these names shared just three birthdays: Jan. 1 (9.8 million names), July 1 (5.4 million) and Dec. 31 (2.3 million). 

However, the General Elections Commission (KPU) said this is easily explained by the fact that many Indonesians do not have birth certificates and submit arbitrary dates when filing for civil registration.

Most polls show that the incumbent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, enjoys a comfortable double-digit lead over Prabowo. A new poll by Australian market research firm Roy Morgan puts Jokowi's support at 56.5 percent and Prabowo's at 43.5 percent. Jokowi's lead slightly narrowed by 0.5 percent since February, while Prabowo's improved by the same number over a month. The poll was conducted in March among 1,102 registered voters.

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