Commotion during the Indonesian election "Pemilu" week 2019

Exactly 2 days before the general election in Indonesia, I was hoping to hear for once some good news via the Indonesian TV news channel. I hoped everything went well with the election especially for residence living abroad. However, all the news channel were airing problems that occured in relation to the election one after another. Some highlights which I remembered:

  1. 30% of voting boxes were destroyed in one of the district of my city due to flood (Bogor = rain city, should be better prepared for this)
  2. Indonesian citizens who were not able to use their voting rights in Aussie, Hongkong, even Germany!
  3. Problems with Ahok who flipped out during the voting session in Japan.
  4. Investigation of vote-rigging in Malaysia.

I won't go in detail about the individual points but I do want to share how the situation was like being a residence in Germany. Since the mid of last year, even before the Indonesian Independence day celebration in Berlin (17th August 2018), all Indonesians that reside in Germany and are listed in the embassy were informed about the general election. We were asked to send some data to verify our voting rights.

Two to three weeks ago, representatives from PPLN (Panitia Pemilihan Luar Negeri) Berlin were actively socializing of how the voting system works. I intentionally went to Leipzig (30 minutes away by train from Halle-Saale) where the event occured. There, they demonstrated in detail of the different voting procedures (voting by mail or directly in the embassy) as well as the mechanism of how to punch a hole through the voting paper (highly recommended to use a nail, not pencil, not pen). We had a chance to check the status of our voting rights which was also available online. That day, they also mentioned that we had to report to the organizers if we did not receive our voting papers per mail or the notification to vote in designated location by the end of March. Suprisingly as soon as I arrived home, I received them and have them sent per mail the next Monday. So far, everything went smoothly. I had also a similar experience when I was in Spain 5 years ago although I never physically visited the Indonesian Embassy in Madrid.

Then, my question would be, what is with all the commotion in regards to voting abroad? Was it because it was poorly organized? If it was indeed poorly organized then is a year of preparation insufficient and should the organizers be prepared for a worse case scenario? How should the voters prepare themselves to successfully use their voting rights? If it was enough to vote per mail, then why intentionally do the hard way, go travel far away to the nearest voting station? It's not like DHL can't reach small villages here. Indeed, there's so many questions to think about.

I do understand why it takes time for people to choose, because it took me also half an hour to figure out which legislative repsentative I should vote for. I had no idea who the 50+ names were in that gigantic piece of paper! In order to overcome this issue, I had a strategy to narrow down my candidate list. First, I would select the parties. Bluntly, I would look for names with at least a bachelors degree, the higher the better, but also too many degree seems suspicious Dr. XXX SH, SE, MH, PhD? I mean if a person is going to represent the society, having a bachelors degree should at least be the minimal standard *unless that person has some major accomplishment like our Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. It's even difficult for a bachelors to get a decent job in a company and let alone someone with no degree could make it into the parliament? Utterly hilarious. Finally, I googled the names which passed my selection criteria and voted.

To sum it up, I layed down the process of how some people abroad would do the election, in this case by mail. The election committee have tried their best to ensure smooth election process for people abroad, but problems could occur unexpectedly. Therefore, for those who will still need to vote this Wednesday, I suggest to travel safely to your hometown or wherever you need to vote (highlight: traffic jam), and use your time wisely to skim through the names which will probably pop up in that election paper of yours. Vote for the ones whom you believe could help contribute to the development of our country to become a better Indonesia.


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