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Controversy surrounds Indonesia’s early distribution of overseas voting ballots for 2024 Election in Taipei

Controversy arises as Overseas Election Committee in Taipei distributes 2024 election ballots early. General Election Commission faces scrutiny over alleged procedural deviations and damaged ballots.

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INDONESIA – In a surprising turn of events, the Overseas Election Committee (PPLN) in Taipei has sparked a public outcry by distributing ballots for the 2024 election ahead of schedule.

This has raised concerns among the public as PPLN Taipei appears to have deviated from the established timeline and rules set by the General Election Commission (KPU).

The incident came to light through a CNN Indonesia Instagram post, where netizens expressed their dissatisfaction and skepticism about the electoral process.

One user, @syafrianitant***, commented, “Elections have been held countless times, yet there’s still no improvement! Humans should be getting smarter, not more foolish!”

Another user, @northblac***, chimed in, “And there’s no punishment for the perpetrators. Quite amusing.”

(Source: Instagram/CNN Indonesia)

The potential for fraud was also highlighted by @berrybenzh***, who commented, “Oh, there might be indications of fraud. If it doesn’t go viral, it’s likely to continue.”

(Source: Instagram/CNN Indonesia)

Acknowledging the controversy, the Chairman of the General Election Commission (KPU), Hasyim Asy’ari, admitted to the oversight. He explained that on Monday (18 Dec), the KPU had issued Regulation No. 25 of 2023 regarding the Voting and Vote Counting Procedures in the General Election.

The regulation outlined three methods for overseas voting: voting at Overseas Polling Stations (TPSLN), voting through Mobile Ballot Boxes (KSK), and voting by mail.

“According to Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections, voting outside the country can be conducted earlier than or simultaneously with voting within the country (early voting),” stated Hasyim in a press release on Thursday (28 Dec).

Based on this legal framework, the voting process could be carried out by the Chairman of the Overseas Election Committee (KPPSLN Pos) no later than 30 days before the designated voting day at each PPLN.

Additionally, Hasyim explained that, as per the attachment to Regulation No. 25 of 2023, the schedule for sending ballots by PPLN to voters using the mail-in method was set between 2 January and 11 January.

Furthermore, the regulation detailed the schedule for receiving ballots sent by voters to PPLN, which extended from the moment PPLN sent the ballots until no later than 15 February 2024, before the mail-in ballots were counted.

However, a video circulated on social media last week depicting the delivery of ballots to voters via mail in the jurisdiction of PPLN Taipei. The video showed an individual opening envelopes containing ballots for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections. In response to this video,

Hasyim stated, “Regarding the video, the KPU received a letter from the Chairman of PPLN Taipei, Number 028/PL.01.8-SD/065/2023 dated 26 December 2023, regarding an Apology and Explanation Regarding the Delivery of Mail-in Ballots.”

Hasyim clarified that based on the decision of the General Election Commission No. 1413 of 2023 regarding the Number of Ballots Printed in the 2024 General Election on 25 October 2023, a total of 230,307 ballots were printed for PPLN Taipei, covering the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections as well as the Regional Representative Council Elections for Jakarta II.

Out of the total 230,307 ballots allocated to PPLN Taipei, 175,145 were designated for voters using the mail-in method. PPLN Taipei had sent 31,276 envelopes containing ballots for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections and the Regional Representative Council Elections for Jakarta II, which were sent on 18 December 2023, and 30,347 ballots sent on 25 December 2023; the total number of ballots is 62,552.

Hasyim continued, stating that there are still 143,869 mail-in ballots, specifically for voters using the mail-in method, that have not been sent to voters.

“The ballots sent to voters using the mail-in method, totaling 31,276 ballots for each type of election on 18 and 25 December 2023, are declared as damaged ballots. Therefore, they are not considered in recording the use of ballots in the LN-Pos Form,” he added.

To address this issue, the KPU will provide replacement ballots for each type of election to substitute for the damaged ballots.

The 143,869 ballots for each type of election that have not been sent to voters will be sent according to the schedule specified in Attachment I to General Election Commission Regulation No. 25 of 2023 on the Program and Schedule of Activities for the Voting and Vote Counting Stages in the 2024 General Election.

In response to the incident, Puadi, the Coordinator of the Division of Violation Handling and Data and/or Information at the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), raised concerns about potential administrative violations committed by KPPSLN Pos and/or PPLN Taipei.

“The handling of allegations of administrative violations in overseas elections is carried out by the Overseas Election Supervisory Committee (under Bawaslu Regulation No. 8 of 2022 regarding the Handling of Administrative Violations in Elections and Decree Guidelines No. 169 of 2023,” Puadi explained.

Puadi also added that, concerning the KPU’s statement about the 31,276 ballots sent by mail by PPLN Taipei to voters being considered damaged ballots, Bawaslu believes there are no legal grounds for the KPU to declare these ballots as damaged.

According to the attachment to the General Election Commission Decision, there are no criteria for damaged ballots due to procedural errors in the ballot delivery process.

“Thus, there is no legal basis for the KPU to declare that a total of 31,276 ballots sent by mail by PPLN Taipei to voters are damaged ballots,” Puadi asserted.

In light of the situation, Lolly Suhenty, the Coordinator of the Division of Prevention, Public Participation, and Public Relations at Bawaslu, offered suggestions for improvement based on the monitoring results.

Bawaslu advises against labeling 31,276 mail-in ballots from PPLN Taipei as damaged, urging no resend. Suggests monitoring PPLNs in varied regions and deeming early mailed ballots as undamaged. Calls for nationwide voter awareness on refraining from social media documentation during mail-in voting for secrecy.

“KPU must promptly consider Bawaslu’s improvement suggestions to prevent broader consequences,” concluded Lolly.

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