Coronavirus: Voter safety a priority in 2020 elections in Indonesia, says Jokowi

An election official helps a voter with a disability during a simulation of Indonesia's upcoming regional elections on July 22, 2020.
An election official helps a voter with a disability during a simulation of Indonesia's upcoming regional elections on July 22, 2020. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is urging all parties to prioritise the health and safety of voters and polling station officers in the upcoming 2020 regional elections in December amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He conveyed his concerns that the election would spawn new clusters of the coronavirus disease, as people would gather in polling stations on voting day.

"Health protocols should be implemented in every stage of the regional elections. We should have elections that are safe from Covid-19," Jokowi said on Wednesday (Aug 5).

The President added he was optimistic the country could hold elections amid the pandemic just like other countries, such as Singapore, Germany, France and South Korea.

"The most important thing is to assure voters that the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the government are concerned about their health."

The strict health protocols, he added, would be enough to help voters feeling safe during voting day on Dec 9, eventually leading to a high voter turnout.

Jokowi also said that the upcoming regional elections could be the perfect opportunity for innovation for democracy.

However, surveys indicate that most Indonesians, citing Covid-19 concerns, disagree with the government's decision to hold the 2020 simultaneous regional elections in December.

Jakarta-based pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia found that 63 per cent of 1,200 respondents preferred that voting day be postponed.

 
 
 

Another survey held by pollster Charta Politika Indonesia found that many respondents also wanted a postponement of this year's regional elections.

Some experts and activists are concerned about a low voter turnout in December, with the risk of contracting the coronavirus disease at polling stations potentially discouraging voters from participating in the elections.

The simultaneous elections, scheduled on Dec 9 seek to elect 270 leaders comprising nine governors, 224 regents and 37 majors across the archipelago.