EDITORIAL: Enthusiasm not enough

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The General Elections Commission (KPU) and its army of 7.2 million volunteers who will man more than 809,000 polling stations across the country and abroad have encouraged and facilitated eligible voters to exercise their right.

On the bright side, several incidents that marked early voting in a number of polling stations overseas demonstrated the enthusiasm of Indonesians in exercising their right to elect their representatives and leader. The hiccups, however, also teach their compatriots at home a lesson not to take their voting rights for granted.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) and its army of 7.2 million volunteers who will man more than 809,000 polling stations across the country and abroad have encouraged and facilitated eligible voters to exercise their right. Over the past seven months, the KPU has intensified measures through various media to educate voters on technicalities, including what they should do if they did not find their names on the voter roll or if they wished to exercise their right away from their place of residence for certain reasons.

The KPU is targeting a high turnout despite the complexity of problems it faces in administering the first-ever simultaneous presidential and legislative elections — billed as the largest single-day election in the world. Everything looked fine until news broke and video footage circulated online of voters who could not cast their ballots in Sydney and other polling stations overseas on Sunday. Former Jakarta governor Basuki “BTP” Tjahaja Purnama also reported a problem before he finally could exercise his right in Osaka, Japan.

One possible explanation of these glitches may lie with the voters themselves. If it is true that they were not registered and therefore confronted strict rules that denied them access to polling stations, we could ask them where they have been so far. After releasing the provisional voter roll based on Civil Registry and Population Agency (Disdukcapil) data last October, the KPU sent field workers to register them and persistently asked voters to check their status either online or at the subdistrict or village office. And those who wish to change polling stations were asked to apply to the KPU before March 17.

The KPU has also received the Constitutional Court’s help in its bid to record a high voter turnout. The court issued on March 28 a decision that justifies electronic ID cards and letter of recommendations in place of ID card as valid documents unregistered voters have to show to poll workers before casting their vote. But many plan to ignore the entire KPU regulation on that matter. Those voters can only cast ballots at polling stations within their area of residence one hour before registration closes at 1 p.m. and while ballots last.

Enthusiasm should be cherished but it’s not enough if Indonesia is to elect a leader and representatives who can guide the nation through a turbulent time. The votes cast on Wednesday will determine whether the country will make or break in its ambition to become one of the largest economies in the world.

For the last seven months, the KPU has appealed to voters to screen candidates’ track records, including their checkered past. The remaining 24 hours is the final chance they should not waste.

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