Ronna Nirmala & Camelia Pasandaran
A refusal by polling officials to strike fictitious or ineligible voters off the electoral roll for the Jakarta gubernatorial election is threatening to pull the plug on the July 11 poll, an analyst warned on Friday.
Gun Gun Heryanto, a political communications expert at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN), said that if the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD) did not revise the list, five of the six candidates could boycott the polls in protest. “There’s no way an election can be held with just one candidate,” he said.
The camps of five candidates running in the election have identified hundreds of thousands of so-called ghost voters and have repeatedly called on the KPUD to revise the list of about seven million voters.
The KPUD has acknowledged the presence of the ineligible voters but has refused to remove them from the list.
Only the incumbent, Governor Fauzi Bowo, has not raised objections to the list. His opponents, including Solo Mayor Joko Widodo and legislator Hidayat Nur Wahid, contend there may be up to 130,000 ghost voters on the electoral roll.
Gun Gun said that if the candidates did boycott the election, it would serve as an important lesson for everyone.
“There’s a political lesson to be learned from a failed election as much as from a successful one,” he said.
“That’s why if the candidates are truly committed to boycotting the poll [over the voter list], they should have the data to back up their claims.”
But he added that the odds of the candidates refusing to take part in the election were slim, given that no other local election in the country had ever been called off under similar circumstances.
“All the elections where the voter list has come under question have proceeded in spite of protests,” he said.
“But that’s because of weak-willed electioneering. That’s why the challengers in this election must be really brave. They have to keep putting pressure on the KPUD to be responsible [for the list].”
Gun Gun argued that for the candidates to run in spite of their objections would undermine the legitimacy of the election.
“No matter the outcome, the losing candidates will claim they were disadvantaged by the voter list, and this is going to lead to disputes and even a challenge being mounted at the Constitutional Court,” he said.
Some experts, however, contend that the KPUD made the right decision in not revising the list.
Masykurudin Hafidz, supervisory manager of the People’s Voter Education Network (JPPR), said changing the list this close to polling day would prove highly disruptive and throw the legitimacy of the election into doubt. “It will also be prone to manipulation by some of the candidates and their camps,” he said.
On Thursday, KPUD chairwoman Dahlia Umar said the voter list would stand as announced on June 2, despite the candidates’ objections. To prevent ineligible voters from balloting, she said, officials manning polling stations would be told which voters were registered to vote at multiple stations. That way, she said, they could ensure voters were only allowed to vote once.