The General Elections Commission, or KPU, wants to implement electronic voting systems for the 2018 regional elections to produce faster results, according to Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo. (ID Photo/Emral Firdiansyah)

No Violence, But Cases of Vote Buying Mar Indonesia's First Simultaneous Elections

BY :CARLOS PAATH & FAROUK ARNAZ

DECEMBER 09, 2015

Jakarta. Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo claimed voters were enthusiastic about the country's first simultaneous regional elections, despite reports saying otherwise and setbacks in some areas that forced officials to shut down their polling stations.

Speaking after inspecting the mayoral election processes in Semarang, Cental Java, Tjahjo claimed that "the participation level among voters in Indonesia is high.”

However, several media outlets have reported that voter turnout in areas like South Tangerang in the western outskirts of Jakarta and Medan, North Sumatra, have dropped compared to the previous regional elections.

The General Election Commission has yet to reveal just how many constituents participated in Wednesday's election, making it difficult to verify these reports or the minister's statement.

Tjahjo conceded there were still indications of vote buying across the country, despite massive campaigns by the government and activists against such practices. The government, he said, will try to prevent such acts of fraud in the future by introducing tougher laws and regulations.

“In my opinion, those caught red-handed [bribing people to vote for them] should be automatically disqualified or at least have their votes deducted. We will propose [a revision of the existing law] to the House of Representatives,” he said.

The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) recorded least 29 cases of vote buying prior to the campaign period. Officials warned of more cases that may come to light on election day.

In one particular case of electoral fraud in Banjarmasin, South Sulawesi, a polling official allegedly aided a candidate by handing out cash to eligible voters during campaign rallies, a Bawaslu officer said.

On the plus side, National Police reported no cases of violence during election day, a far cry from what happened in past regional and legislative elections.

They will, however, maintain a heightened level of security until the KPU officially announces the results. Officers will also be on high alert in areas where elections were canceled.

Indonesia originally set to stage 269 gubernatorial, district and mayoral elections on Wednesday.

But election disputes in Central Kalimantan; Manado, North Sulawesi; Fakfak district in West Papua; and Pematang Siantar and Simalungun districts in North Sumatra have forced officials to postpone the voting process, Tjahjo said on Wednesday.

It remains unclear whether voting will continue in the near future or be postponed until the next wave of simultaneous regional elections in 2017.

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