No cheating, please...Indonesian's are watching

An election commission official checking a document, stating the number of votes collected in ballot boxes, at a Jakarta polling station last week.

Amid concerns about possible cheating during the official vote count in Indonesia's closely fought presidential election, some people have taken it upon themselves to ensure there are no shenanigans.

A massive grassroots effort has been launched - via text messages or social media and word of mouth - to mobilise people to keep a close watch as results from nearly 480,000 polling stations started being tallied yesterday in the various sub-districts.

"Some people started a link where forms with suspicious results can be put online. These will help our volunteers or those who have snapped pictures of this form to check against the ones uploaded officially on the KPU (Election Commission) website," said lawyer Taufik Basari, a member of presidential candidate Joko Widodo's campaign team.

It is only possible to check the forms in this way because the KPU scanned and uploaded them to its website for the first time, to promote public scrutiny.

Amid fears of vote-rigging, people have seized the chance and are calling on the KPU to investigate forms they have identified as erroneous. Political analysts say this process is a deterrent against systemic manipulation.

The presidential candidates in last Wednesday's election - Mr Joko and Mr Prabowo Subianto - have both claimed victory, although the more credible polling agencies declared Mr Joko the winner. The two camps have since been embroiled in a war of words.

The country remains on edge until the official vote-counting is completed and the winner is announced early next week.

And amid the swirling speculation, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been forced to refute talk of a tabulation centre being set up at his home in Cikeas, Bogor. "There has never been a vote count facility at Cikeas. What there is is a Cikeas video- conferencing facility that allows the President to communicate with senior leaders of the military, both at central and regional levels," said presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha.

By last night, nearly 40 dodgy forms from polling stations across Indonesia could be found on - put together by a group of concerned citizens. The number of such forms is expected to grow.

One such form, from a polling station in the Kemayoran area in central Jakarta, put the total number of votes at 204. However, Mr Prabowo was recorded as having received 201 votes and Mr Joko, 202 votes.

Another form, which came from Banten province near Jakarta, showed clearly someone had written a new set of numbers over the original ones.

Some other forms had incorrect tabulations or a blank space where the number of votes should have been entered.

"Some of this could be due to oversight, but if there are too many, then we have a problem," Mr Joko was quoted by local media as saying. "There could be someone messing with the votes."

The Prabowo camp shot back, claiming that it too had been alerted to "random attacks".

"We have got reports that vans carrying ballot papers had been attacked in Bima city (West Nusa Tenggara) and the same thing happened in South Kalimantan," said Mr Hashim Djojohadikusumo, Mr Prabowo's younger brother and a key campaign financier. He did not elaborate.

While both sides say they have stationed their own monitors at the polling stations, Mr Taufik admitted that the Prabowo camp's monitors are better trained and would know what to look out for.

In contrast, those acting as Mr Joko's "eyes" are mostly volunteers, and are present at only 90 per cent or so of polling stations.

Added Mr Taufik: "We also are aware that not all areas, like the more remote places, will have people who can check the result forms and upload pictures."

But despite the discrepancies and inconsistencies they have spotted, it remains to be seen whether the efforts of these concerned citizens will satisfy the candidates in this hotly disputed election.

The Prabowo camp has repeatedly said it would resort to legal channels to uphold its win in last week's election.

"We reserve all legal constitutional rights which include appealing to the Constitutional Court," said Mr Hashim.

Paper trail

Some people started a link where forms with suspicious results can be put online. These will help our volunteers or those who have snapped pictures of this form to check against the ones uploaded officially on the KPU (Election Commission) website.

- Lawyer Taufik Basari, a member of Mr Joko's campaign team

This article was first published on July 14, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.