The Election Commission of Indonesia or Komisi Pemilihan Umum (KPU) has a mission to increase people’s political awareness in actively participating in elections, in order to achieve a democratic Indonesian society.
The legitimacy of Indonesia’s elections relies on a constituency that understands how to vote and why this is important. Improving citizen knowledge on the mechanics of registering to vote and casting a valid vote, as well as how their vote can support enhanced accountability of state institutions, are key goals of the Indonesian Government. The Indonesian Government has stated that a key indicator of the success against these goals will be at least 75 per cent of eligible voters successfully casting their votes in the next national elections.
Before 2014 Elections, the number of first time voters was as many as 21 million. As Indonesia is a very broad country, the KPU needed help from CSOs to carry out civic and voter education throughout the country. According to a survey conducted by the Polling Center, with support from the Asia Foundation, it revealed that voters were still worried about the gaps in voter information. Voters required information about the presidential candidates and the legislative candidates more than political party information.
There is also an effort to increase voter participation by persons with disabilities, the KPU produced posters, banners, billboards, and both electronic and print media advertising that included images of voters with disabilities. To ensure that voters who are deaf and hard-of-hearing could receive information about presidential candidates, the KPU arranged for sign language interpreters to join the televised presidential debates.
The KPU also organized “democracy volunteers” for five sectors of voters: first time voters, religious groups, women’s groups, vulnerable groups, and persons with disabilities. It was understood that not all communities could be reached directly by the Commission, so organizing democracy volunteers helped to support voter education efforts for these target sectors. Democracy volunteers were present in all districts and cities, with as many as 25 people in a given city. They were equipped with a voter education module and given training on conducting activities to increase public participation.
The module included sections on the significance of democracy, elections and participation, procedures for voting in the election, an introduction to election contestants, and additional materials deemed appropriate based the needs of the five sectors. Periodic reports were submitted to the KPU concerning the results of the voter education efforts at the district and city level.
However, there were still weaknesses in voter education efforts. Though the KPU released voter education materials, these were not available in accessible formats for persons with disabilities. Documents were not released in either braille or audio formats for persons who are blind or have low vision; public service announcements on the television did not include sign language interpreters; and material was not available in simplified language for ease of use by persons with intellectual disabilities.
Additionally, the module used by the democracy volunteers did not include key information relating to the election, such as how the voters’ list is updated (which is critical to being able to collected disaggregated data on voters with disabilities).
For 2014 elections, to help voters prepare, several independent groups set up websites to share election information and news about the different candidates. Many included videos, charts and other visual data aimed at helping voters understand more about the election process. In a country where more people have access to the Internet than ever, the sites were geared toward getting potential voters engaged, answering questions and seeing how much they already know.
The General Elections Committee, also known as the KPU, has set up a website with profiles of the candidates for parliament and the regional house of representatives. The site’s homepage displays the logos of the 15 different parties represented. Visitors can click on an icon and it will direct them to a page where they can select which of the 33 provinces they will vote in. From there they’re directed to a list of names complete with photos and links to the candidate’s resumes, giving them a slightly closer look inside the people whose faces are plastered on election banners.
Ayo Vote is part of an initiative aimed at encouraging youth to participate in the elections and learn more about their country’s political system. To appeal to users, who are both tech and social media savvy – and who will play a big role in this year’s polls – the website offers videos and other participatory tools that allow visitors to get involved. In one video series, founder Pingkan Irwin challenges young people to answer basic questions about the Indonesian political system.
This website is run by the Associations for Elections and Democracy, or Perludem, an organization formed by 2004 election supervisors. The website offers daily bits of electoral news, interviews, opinion pieces, and photos. Aside from current news and events, the website also provides basic election basic information, including a history of Indonesian elections dating back to 1955. There is also a detailed section that provides explanations on elections regulations and an “elections glossary,” to help voters understand basic election-related lingo.
Celup kelingking refers to the purple ink in which voter’s dip their pinky fingers to signify that they’ve cast their ballots. The website was set up by a group of university students in Jakarta and, like Ayo Vote, is aimed at getting youths more involved in the election process. The site includes videos and info-graphics (all created by the students) that highlight important facts and trivia about past elections, including which party spent the most on campaigning during the 2009 polls. (Answer, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P at Rp 260 billion or $22 million). A special “aspiration column” invites visitors to share what they’re expecting from the country’s next leaders.
People’s Voter Education Network (JPPR)
JPPR is a network of 38 institutions consisting of social organizations under Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Muhammadiyah, NGOs, educational institutions, interfaith institutions, student institutions, and radio channels. Members of JPPR work at the national and provincial level, Regency/City, District, up to Village. Since its founding in 1998, JPPR has actively promoted democratic education for Indonesian people, mainly by observing the conduct of General and local elections in Indonesia.
AGENDA is a consortium of civil society organizations and disabled people’s organizations across Southeast Asia aiming to improve the quality of persons with disabilities’ access to their political rights, including the right to vote and be elected. It was established in 2011 by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Voter Education Network for the People (JPPR), and Indonesia’s Persons with Disabilities Association (PPDI).
Center for Election and Political Party (CEPP)
CEPP holds a license from the US-based Rock the Vote organization, which builds the political awareness of young people across Indonesia through various activities, including discussions among university students and senior high school students. It has also set up branch offices in more than 40 campuses.
Anita Rachman, Indonesia’s 2.0 Elections Get Going, The Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2014, http://blogs.wsj.com/indonesiarealtime/2014/01/13/indonesias-2-0-elections-get-going/.
Organization Profile: People’s Voter Education Network (Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih Rakyat, JPPR), AGENDA, http://www2.agendaasia.org/index.php/articles/news/161-organization-profile-people-s-voter-education-network-jaringan-pendidikan-pemilih-rakyat-jppr.
Global Indonesian Voices, Upholding the Political Rights of Persons with Disabilities- Enabling Accessible Election- 3rd AGENDA Regional Dialogue, January 27, 2015, http://www.globalindonesianvoices.com/18749/upholding-the-political-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-enabling-accessible-election-3rd-agenda-regional-dialogue/.
JPPR, 2014 Presidential Elections in Indonesia, Monitoring Results from Aceh, Jakarta, Central Java, South Kalimantan and South Sulawesi, 2014, https://www.ifes.org/sites/default/files/indonesia_election_access_monitoring_report_2014.pdf.
The Asia Foundation, Elections in Indonesia, 2014, https://asiafoundation.org/resources/pdfs/IndonesiaElections.pdf.
Hans David Tampubolon, Educating the neglected young voters, The Jakarta Post, February 24, 2014, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/02/24/educating-neglected-young-voters.html.
PDF : Indonesia National Voter Education Survey (The Asia Foundation: 1999)
PDF : Voter education poster (2004)
Link : Politics-Indonesia: Voter Education Picks up Ahead of 2004 Polls (IPS News: 2002)
Link : Churches called to Participate in Voter Education (UCA News: 1999)