Some overseas Indonesia voters face problems with casting their ballots


JAKARTA - Problems are still lingering a week before Indonesia's simultaneous elections, with overseas voters uncertain about whether they can exercise their right to vote or not.

The General Elections Commission has slated April 8 to 14 for overseas voters to cast their ballots.

The Overseas Elections Committee (PPLN) says there are three ways that Indonesians can vote - direct voting at polling stations, by-mail voting, and drop-box voting. The vote count will be held simultaneously on Apr 17.

The election commission said on Wednesday voting overseas had begun smoothly, with ballots being cast in parts of Thailand, Yemen, Ecuador and Panama.

In Singapore, registered voters living or working in the Republic will cast their ballots at the Indonesian embassy on Sunday.

About 50 polling stations will be set up on embassy grounds to accommodate at least 127,000 voters. There are more than 200,000 Indonesian citizens living or working in Singapore.

But some Indonesians say they are in the dark about voting day.

Sringatin, an Indonesian migrant worker in Hong Kong, said that as of last Sunday afternoon (April 7), she had not been registered yet for the upcoming elections.

She said she did not know how she would participate as she had not received any notification despite having registered online.

"I'm not the only one who is experiencing this. Many other migrant workers are complaining about the same thing," said Sringatin, who is also the coordinator of the Indonesian Migrant Worker Network in Hong Kong. "We have complained about this issue to the PPLN and Indonesia's representative but they have not come up with any solutions."

Like Sringatin, Luky Setyarini, an Indonesian software engineer living in Bonn, Germany, is also facing obstacles to exercise her right to vote as her ballot paper had yet to reach her.

Luky was already registered to vote and was notified that she would do so by by-mail voting. However, after the Frankfurt PPLN announced that they had distributed all the ballots, Luky and her family discovered that they had not yet received theirs.

"We enquired at the PPLN and a delivery service firm about the papers but they said the papers had already been sent to my address. No one at home ever met the deliverer, let alone take the papers," she said, adding that she and her husband would check the delivery service warehouse on Monday to trace the papers.

"I am disappointed because I possibly lost my chance to vote. The PPLN said I was listed as having voted by-mail," she added.

PPLN head Wajid Fauzi told The Jakarta Post that he had received reports on such shortcomings and had instructed overseas election committees to "take the necessary measures so that no Indonesians lose their right to vote".

The election commission is hoping that participation for this election will increase to more than 50 per cent, higher than the 2014 presidential election, which saw between 33 and 35 per cent. Participation for the legislative election, which was also held in the same year, was 22 per cent.

"It is expected that participation will be higher due to increased enthusiasm because the upcoming elections will be the first simultaneous elections in Indonesia," Wajid said.

Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) commissioner Fritz Edward Siregar said the agency had encountered reports of problems abroad from missing data, swapped and damaged ballot papers, to "voting brokers".

The so-called brokers, who were prevalent in Malaysia, secretly took ballot papers from peoples' mail boxes and voted without their knowledge.

"We have sent letters to reprimand the election committee with regards to these issues," Fritz added.

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