Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Indonesia sets sights on automated elections in 2014

Indonesian Flag
In 2014, some 170 million people of Indonesia will troop to the polling precincts to elect their next president. For the first time, they will no longer be writing the names of their candidates on a paper ballot but would merely be pressing a button on a machine to cast their vote.

Indonesia hopes to be the second Southeast Asian country (after the Philippines) to shift from a manual elections to automated. While automation works for every country, it is many times more beneficial for a country as vast, hugely populated and as topologically-diverse as Indonesia. The General Election Commission (KPU) of Indonesia is leading the charge for automation, convinced that it would result to cost-effectiveness, faster vote-counting, increased auditability, and greater transparency.

While it requires a considerable amount of initial expenditure, automation is an investment the Indonesian government is well-advised to undertake. It would send a clear and strong signal to the electorate and to the international community that the country is determined to eliminate electoral fraud and ready to embrace the future of democracy.

Map of Indonesia
Indonesia’s last presidential election in 2009 was marred by allegations of fraud with at least two civil groups—Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, and Indonesian Women's Association for Justice—filing suits against the KPU and the government. Many national political parties have also branded the elections as unfair.

At the moment, election laws and regulations are being reviewed. Once the guidelines are in place, the KPU is set to embark on a massive information campaign designed to make the voters accept the changes.

Indonesia is currently looking at a number of suppliers to provide the technology for the ambitious automation project.