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  • Ballot boxes for the upcoming Indonesia general election are seen before they are distributed in Jakarta.

    Ballot boxes for the upcoming Indonesia general election are seen before they are distributed in Jakarta. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 April 2019
Opinion

The commission has committed to setting up "a team and [sending] its members there to ascertain what really happened," said Election Commission official Ilham Saputra. 

Several suspicious videos suggesting that ballots for Indonesia's April 17 elections have been tampered with has resulted in an investigation by the Election Commission, according to an announcement by the body's officials Thursday. 

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One video shows footage of police officers at a Malaysian warehouse in the Selangor state with people holding ballots that have been marked in favor of members of the NasDem party, the political party aligned with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, including votes for the president. 

A second video shows women at a separate location, in Malaysia, poking holes in voting papers, which is how votes are cast. The commission has committed to setting up "a team and [sending] its members there to ascertain what really happened," Indonesian Election Commission official Ilham Saputra said. 

Indonesians in Malaysia are scheduled to vote on the 14th, and Saputra confirmed that voting materials had been sent to the country a week ago. Malaysia has an estimated 980,000 registered Indonesian voters who will be participating in elections from overseas. The ballots are being kept in two locations, both of which were apparently infiltrated, according to the videos.  

“When I arrived at the first location, the shophouse door was open. According to some members (of the opposition committee) who suspected that there was a pile of ballot papers inside, they entered through a window and opened the door from inside,” Yaza Azzhara, leader of the Indonesian election monitoring committee for Kuala Lumpur, said.

While the marked ballots were in favor of Widodo, the Indonesian president supports the investigation stating that if the investigation confirms what is suggested by the videos, "it's a violation and should be reported to the National Election Supervisory Board."

In terms of credibility, a researcher with the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic International Studies, Arya Fernandes, remarked that the incident will not have "such a big effect from the presidential elections." 

The researcher added that the institutions in charge of organizing the election will most likely face more scrutiny than the president, in terms of professionalism.

"I think this is a test for the Election Commission to ensure the electoral process is carried out democratically and honestly," Fernades explained.

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