The Tough Burden of Polling Officers
THE heavy work load to be borne by polling organising committee (KPPS) officials was in fact already taken into account by the General Elections Commission (KPU).
In a voting and vote counting simulation organized in Tangerang, Banten, in August last year, the KPU watched officials incapable of finishing their tasks before the next day.
KPU member Pramono Ubaid Tanthowi said the burden of officials in these elections was tougher because for the first time presidential and legislative elections were simultaneously carried out so that there was another box of ballots to be counted. Law No. 7/2017 on General Elections obligates the completion of vote counting and recapitulation at polling stations (TPS) before midnight. “In the simulation, we observed that officials were very exhausted and could not finish their work on time,” said Pramono on Monday, May 13.
In order to reduce their burden, the KPU made a breakthrough. The KPU decreased the number of voters at the TPS from a maximum of 500 people as required by the law to a maximum of 300. That was why the number of TPS increased from about 500,000 for the legislative elections in 2014 to 813,000. Automatically, the number of officials also rose from around 3.5 million to 5.6 million.
Titi Anggraini, Executive Director of the Association for General Elections and Democracy (Perludem), an elections observer institution, described the KPU’s move to raise the TPS number as a breakthrough. But Titi, who followed the tryout in Tangerang, said the KPU’s simulation in fact was unable yet to represent the burden to be borne by TPS officials, because it was organized under too ideal conditions such as the absence of queuing people and witnesses questioning the process of vote counting. “In the simulation, the officials were not required to set up tents or arrange logistics either. They also had no need to deliver recapitulation results to districts,” she said.
With the simultaneous presidential and legislative elections, Titi calculated the ideal number at only 200 voters per TPS. But this could have caused swelling costs of honorariums and logistical needs like ballot boxes and ink.
Titi, who visited several TPS on the D-day, said the recapitulation process was still not completed before midnight. Officials also appeared to be exhausted. One of the reasons was the very large number of C1 forms—containing vote recapitulations at TPS—to be signed by officials. With only one witness present, officials had to sign 18 times on C1 forms for the election of the House of Representatives members, not to mention C1 forms for Regional Councils and the Regional Representative Council.
Fortunately, Perludem and a number of elections activists filed a request for a judicial review to the Constitutional Court regarding the time for counting and recapitulation. It was meant to reduce the pressure on KPPS officials so as not to hurriedly finish their tasks and in order to maintain the legality of elections results. At the end of March, the Court extended the time for counting and recapitulation by 12 hours.
Yet KPPS members still had mental burden. Some officials claimed to be afraid of being blamed for fraud. This was admitted by Sih Sugiarti, Lilik Suswanto’s wife, chairman of KPPS-TPS No. 25 in Caturtunggal village, Sleman, Yogyakarta, who died six days after the polls. According to Sugiarti, her husband was worried about a repeat voting at the TPS under his charge. She noticed Lilik watching reports on fraudulent elections many times. “His health condition was thus declining,” said Sugiarti.
To prevent any recurrence of the death of TPS officials, General Chairman of the Central Board of the Indonesian Doctors Association Daeng M. Faqih said the KPU should tighten health requirements for the prospective officials. But Titi Anggraini and Pramono Ubaid said the health requirements had become a dilemma because thorough medical checkups were costly.