Juli 23, 2024

Choosing Election Technology for Indonesia


The Election Commission (KPU), International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), and the Association for Election and Democracy (Perludem) held a conference with election stakeholders (09/20). Indonesia, like many other countries, mostly uses vote tabulation information system. It is expected that election organizers are able to maintain public trust on the votes counting process and its result as many countries, including developed countries in Europe, has started abandoning electronic voting machine (e-voting).

“KPU believes the quality of elections can be improved with election technology,” says the Chairman of KPU, Juri Ardiantoro, in his speech during the opening ceremony of “Roundtable Discussion on ICT in Elections: What are Indonesias Needs?” at the main conference room of KPU Headquarter, Jakarta (09/20).

KPU asserts that, in order to improve the quality of elections with technology, they have formed a special team to study, recommend, and gradually implement election technology. One of the achievements of this special team is improving the vote recapitulation technology. The Vote Counting Information System (Sitap) as used in the 2014 Elections is getting improved and will be used in the concurrent local elections (2015, 2017, and 2018).

According to the research and data published by the International IDEA, there is an increasing trend in using election technology by election management bodies (EMBs). Out of 106 countries that using election technology surveyed by International IDEA, 60% of them are using tabulation technology, 55% are using voters registration technology, 35% are using biometrics technology (fingerprints scanner, retina scanner, etc.) for voters registration, 25% are using biometrics for verifying voters identity, and 20% are using voting machine (e-voting). The representative for International IDEA in Indonesia, Adhy Aman, says it is important for Indonesia to study and compare the experience of other countries in using the election technology in order to identify its own needs.

Not Mere Facility

KPU argues that election technology is essential to make the electoral process more efficient. In practice, election process is a rigorous process that it is important for the organizers to prioritize accuracy. Therefore, according to KPU, election technology can very much determine the quality and result of an election rather than a mere technological facility.

“Election technology can answer our needs for a faster and more reliable election result. However, our constitution requires KPU to process and count electoral votes manually. As the result, we still have sluggish and inefficient vote counting process. We are hoping we can immediately implement election technolgy, because technology is not merely facility, but can also determine the accuracy and quality of the election result,” says a member of KPU, Hadar Nafis Gumay (09/20).

Hadar explains, in the 2014 Elections, KPU was able to provide a quick and transparent election result because of the implementation of electio technology. According to Hadar, the current legal framework, which considers election technology as a mere facility, is no longer relevant. In the 2014 National Elections, and in the 2015 and 2017 Local Elections, KPU has been implemented 6 election technologies. Other than Situng (vote counting information system), KPU also implemented Sidalih (Voters Registration Information System), Silog (Election Logistics Information System), Sipol (Political Party Verification Information System), Silon (Election Candidates Verification Information System), and Sitap (Election Stages Information System).

E-Voting Technology Is Not A Priority

KPU also asserts that electronic voting machine (e-voting) is not the priority. According to KPU, they never experience any significant problem with the voting process. Based on the experience during the 2014 National Elections, KPU asserts that what Indonesia really need is the implementation of technology to facilitate vote counting process (not the voting process).

“What we need is a technology that can significantly increase the security and the quickness of the vote counting process,” says the Chairman of KPU, Juri Ardiantoro (09/20).

An election expert, Didik Supriyanto, in his article “E-Voting Dilemma” (Kompas, 12/9/2014), wrote that there are two reasons why e-voting technology is not compatible with the context of Indonesian elections. Firstly, in Indonesia, polling stations are considered to be spaces for social interaction. Secondly, polling stations are considered as spaces to prevent conflicts due to political differences.

During election day, polling stations in Indonesia serve as places where members of society are mingling with one another. Every voter, who might not have the chance to socialize with his neighbor outside the election day, is mingling and talking to each other at the polling station. If the implementation of e-voting means voters do not have to come to polling station, then such implementation will obliterate that kind of social enthusiasm.

In addition, polling station is also a place that can prevent political conflict. During election, voters come all the way to polling station to conduct participatory democracy openly. Those voters acquire the result of the election and are forced to objectively accept that result.

As mandated by the Law No.1/2015, KPU has gradually implemented a trial version of e-voting technology. That is also the response of KPU to Governments demand that KPU have to immediately implement e-voting technology before the 2019 National Elections. Previously, the legal status of e-voting implementation only refer to the decision issued by the Constitutional Court based on free and fair principles.

“The current members of KPU have decided that they will not implement e-voting technology for the 2019 Elections. However, I cannot guarantee that the KPU members for the next period will have the same decision. We will conducting trial implementation of e-voting technology in 2017 Local Elections. However, we will only implement it in only several areas, especially in big cities,” says Hadar Nafis Gumay, a KPU member.

It Is All About Trust

The success of the implementation of election technology is heavily influenced by public trust. An election expert from International IDEA, Peter Wolf, argues that credibility and transparency are important to gain public trust.

“It is important to guarantee the credibility and transparency in implementing election technology, especially on behalf of the technology provider and the EMBs as the users,” says Peter (09/20).

An election expert from Mongolia, Tamir Zorigt, agrees with Peter. According to Tamir, public distrust on election technology is the biggest challenge in its implementation. However, we can dissipate such distrust by appointing the right person to implement it.

“EMBs should conduct recruitment transparently. Only by transparent recruitment EMBs can appoint the right person that is trusted by the public,” Tamir says. []