Election officer counts the votes during the Feb. 15 Jakarta governor election. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

Jakarta's Puzzling Voters' List Under Spotlight as Run-Off Election Nears

BY :ALIN ALMANAR

FEBRUARY 24, 2017

Jakarta. Preparation for a run-off gubernatorial election in Jakarta has focused mainly on improving the voters' list, poll officials said, after the Feb. 15 first-round election saw hundreds of residents reportedly deprived of their rights to vote.

Voter turnout on Feb. 15 surpassed poll commissioners's target of 75 percent, with 5.5 million of the 7.1 million eligible voters casting their ballot at around 13,000 polling stations.

But election supervisors estimated hundreds of Jakarta residents were accidentally prevented from casting their vote on the day, as election organizers mismanaged the already puzzling electoral roll.

Poll officials, shortly after holding a meeting on Thursday (23/02) to evaluate the first-round election, said they will pay special attention to the electoral roll ahead of the April 19 run-off election.

"There shouldn't be anything preventing residents from voting," Juri Ardiantoro, chairman of the General Election Commission (KPU), told the press in Jakarta.

Commission officials will have around two weeks starting March 5 to update the voters' list.

"We'll make sure the voters' list will be much better," Muhammad, chairman of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), said.

Aside from a permanent list of voters, the Feb. 15 election also involved an additional list of voters — residents who did not show up during the earlier data verification.

They should still have been allowed to vote as long as they bring an identity card or a recommendation letter issued by the Population and Civil Registry Agency. According to the agency's data, around 85,000 residents were sent the letters before Feb. 15.

But these additional voters unexpectedly turned out in droves, apparently overwhelming many election officials at polling stations.

According to Bawaslu data, at least 11 polling stations ran out of the forms these additional voters had to fill in to cast their ballot, with only 20 forms made available at each polling station.

A requirement for these additional voters to cast their ballot only during the last hour when the polling station was open apparently made situation much worse.

Long queues of voters — from 20 to 150 people at each polling station — were seen during that last hour. For many of them, time ran out before they could take their turn to vote.

These additional voters will be included in the permanent electoral roll during the run-off election, KPU commissioners said.

"All Jakartans have the right to vote. We have to do the right thing by them, and also for the governor candidates," Juri said.

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