INDONESIA – In a bid to overcome permit constraints for polling stations in Hong Kong and Macau during the 2024 presidential and legislative elections, the General Election Commission (KPU) of Indonesia is contemplating the implementation of mail-in voting.
Commissioner Idham Kholik revealed that the decision stems from difficulties in obtaining permits for polling stations, due to the Chinese New Year holiday coinciding with election day, which falls on 14 February 2024.
Commissioner Kholik stated that the Chinese government has not recommended holding elections or establishing overseas polling stations outside the premises of the Indonesian Consulate General (KJRI) during the Chinese New Year holiday on 13 February 2024.
He highlighted the government’s approval for establishing overseas polling stations only within the KJRI, while the number of registered voters in China stands at a significant 164,691.
Concerns were raised about potential long queues extending to the main streets of Hong Kong if polling stations were set up within the KJRI premises, given the limited space in the region.
Despite these challenges, KPU asserted that they are actively coordinating with the Chinese government to find a suitable compromise. Currently, the Indonesian representatives in Hong Kong and Macau are consolidating information for submission to the Overseas Election Supervisors in those regions, with permission from Beijing still pending.
While exploring alternatives, KPU admitted to considering mail-in voting for the 164,691 registered voters if establishing polling stations becomes unfeasible.
However, Commissioner Kholik acknowledged a drawback, expressing concerns about the potential for ballots not reaching all eligible voters, particularly the majority of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong and Macau.
Migrant Care Executive Director, Wahyu Susilo, raised further concerns about the reliability of mail-in voting, citing an Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) study indicating its vulnerability to fraud.
“This is beyond the reach of the Indonesian territory. There is no access for supervisors and monitors to ensure that postal voting is conducted properly. This completely disregards the political rights of our migrant worker friends,” said Wahyu on Wednesday (29 Nov).
Wahyu urged KPU and the Overseas Election Committees to maintain polling stations, emphasizing that Migrant Care has been an accredited election observer in Hong Kong since 2009.
According to him, the high voter turnout in Hong Kong is attributed to the effectiveness of polling stations, and their removal could lead to decreased participation.
Bawaslu member Lolly Suhenty added that efforts are underway to address the potential risks associated with mail-in voting.
For the 2024 elections, election supervisors will monitor the mail-in voting process, which was previously unobserved. The focus is on collaborating with local postal services to ensure clear voter lists and secure delivery with intact seals to prevent any misuse.
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