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Indonesia sets voting day for 2024 General Election on 14 February

The 2024 Indonesian General Election is scheduled for 14 February, with strict penalties for vote manipulation and encouraging “golput.”

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INDONESIA – The General Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum or KPU) in Indonesia has officially announced that the voting day for the 2024 General Election is set for 14 February 2024. On this day, citizens will cast their votes at designated polling stations known as Tempat Pemungutan Suara (TPS).

In an effort to maintain the integrity of the election, the KPU has also reinforced strict regulations against practices that could potentially undermine the electoral process.

One of these regulations specifies that individuals who persuade others not to use their voting rights or to abstain from voting, popularly known as “golput,” or “blank group” in English, by offering monetary incentives or other material benefits, may face up to three years in prison and a fine of Rp36 million.

Furthermore, the same penalties apply to anyone who directs voters to choose a specific candidate during the voting process.

A person who encourages abstention from voting by promising material incentives can be sentenced to three years in prison. (Photo: CNN Indonesia)

 

These regulations are stipulated in Article 515 of the Election Law Number 7 of 2017, which states, “Any person who intentionally, during the voting process, promises or offers money or other materials to voters to refrain from exercising their right to vote or to choose a particular election participant or to vote in a particular manner so that their ballot becomes invalid, shall be punished with imprisonment for up to 3 (three) years and a fine of up to Rp36 million.”

The Election Law also addresses the disruption of the voting process, stating in Article 517 that individuals or entities intentionally interfering with the electoral process may face a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to Rp60 million.

The term “golput” refers to a group of citizens who choose not to vote in elections for political reasons, rather than due to logistical constraints, and is a growing phenomenon in Indonesia. The KPU’s data indicates that the rate of golput increased from 20.24% in the 2004 presidential election to 25.19% in 2009. In 2014, it stood at 20.22%. However, this trend was reversed in 2019 when the golput rate decreased to 18.03%.

In response to these regulations, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) – an independent survey institute – clarified that abstaining from voting in an election is not a legal violation. According to ICJR, there is no provision in the Election Law that prohibits individuals from choosing not to vote.

The ICJR emphasizes that the sanctions outlined in Article 515 of the Election Law only pertain to those who encourage others to abstain from voting on election day by promising financial incentives or material benefits.

ICJR further elaborates that, “Thus, without any promise or provision of money or material, merely encouraging others to abstain from voting cannot be subject to prosecutions.”

As voting day coincides with Valentine’s Day, it’s noteworthy that in Indonesia, a nation where the majority of the population is Muslim, there’s a significant aversion to the holiday. Islamic leaders and conservatives often express disapproval, challenging its Western roots and potential encouragement of pre-marital relations.

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