Concerned voters crowdsource ballot count

Author

Dr Lily Yulianti Farid is an Indonesian journalist, communication specialist, and researcher, and is the founder and director of the Makassar International Writers Festival. She completed her PhD at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Melbourne, in 2015.

 

With six days still to go before the Indonesian Electoral Commission (KPU) announces, on 22 July, the official result of the presidential election, and with both candidates claiming victory and accusing one another’s supporters of wrongdoing, impatient Indonesian voters are now looking for clarity in “real count” information drawn from official data.

 

At this stage of the electoral process, the KPU makes official data from every one of the nation’s 486,000 voting stations available online for public scrutiny. The “C1” forms from each station are signed and approved by electoral staffers and witnesses from both camps, then scanned and forwarded to the KPU Data Centre in Jakarta. Data from the C1 forms provides the basis for compiling the final result.  The catch is that the C1 forms don’t tally up the votes – this still requires laborious manual counting.

 

But with the downloading of the C1 data online, three innovating Indonesians living overseas have seized on the moment to launch a public, live crowd-sourced “real count” analysis at http://kawalpemilu.org (link is external).

 

Using data from the official website, the  “kawal pemilu” movement – the term literally means “to guard the election” or “election watch”) – hooks into the existing ‘netizen’ network of volunteer election scrutineers to enlist help counting and analysing the votes.

 

Ainun Najib, a student of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, along with two other Indonesian data wizards working in the USA’s Silicon Valley, set up the website and a Facebook page on 14 July, then got busy on Twitter sending out the word urging Indonesia’s internet-savvy citizens to join the effort.

 

Within hours the website link went viral.

 

In a telephone interview with Jakarta-based TV station MetroTV, Ainun Najib explained that the Indonesian programmers in Silicon Valley would not reveal their identities. The only clues he gave that both are working for world-renowned IT companies, and that as Indonesian expatriates they wanted to use their skills to contribute to fair and free elections in Indonesia.

 

In a brief statement on his Twitter account, Ainun also revealed that the programmers were members of Indonesian Computer Olympics Team and that it took them just two days to build the system using two servers – one secured internal server, and another available to the public.

 

 

The website picks up the scanned C1 form data from the KPU website in a numeric format. The process was made possible with the help of 700 volunteers. Interestingly, when Ainun opened calls for volunteers to help the independent initiative, he received applications from both from  supporters of both Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto as well as from undecided voters.

 

Even though kawalpemilu.org calls itself a “real count” system, it is not an official result and does not have an affiliation with the KPU nor any political party. Nonetheless the initiative has been welcomed by many as a breakthrough amid the disputes and debates about close the quick count results.

 

On Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms, Indonesian “netizens” are now easily comparing the data and observations they have collected from local ballot stations with the data available on kawalpemilu.org.

 

 

The main table (above) presents total data from 33 provinces. Visitors can check data distribution in each province, city/regency, district, suburb and polling station. An automatic form to report errors or different results (if the visitors hold different source of real-count data) is also available on this website. Mainstream media organisations, including Koran Tempo (link is external), are using kawalpemilu.org to compare the quick counts from 12 pollsters and the “real count” available on this website.

 

Volunteer scrutineer Tien Syukur, in South Jakarta District, shared her experience in following the vote-counting process in a polling station in her neighbourhood with me. She took pictures, recorded the staffers’ names, and last but not least she captured the final result announced in the ballot station at the end of the day. “I already double-checked my record with the official C1 form published on the electoral commission’s website. I am glad that the result was similar.” She later uploaded the result on her Path  (link is external)account (a Facebook-like social media which is very popular among Indonesian “netizens”) calling on her friends to compare their record from their local polling station with the online data available.

 

Another volunteer scrutineer, Dudik Supriyanto, in Surabaya praised kawalpemilu.org initiative as a defining moment for civil society. “I followed the vote-counting process in a ballot station in my neighbourhood. When I tried to attend the counting process in neighbouring disctrict, it took me for two days (to get access).”

 

Kawalpemilu.org updates its data every 10 minutes and the initiative encourages people to send messages if they find any discrepancies or errors. On its Facebook page, comments, questions and suggestions on this real-time system have created fruitful conversations, taking civil society involvement to guard the election process into another, unprecedented level.

 

Despite the peaceful conduct of polling on 9 July, concerns about fraud have emerged as the quick counts suggest tight results with margin less than 5 per cent might lead to “unfair tactics” in the counting process.  Therefore, an independent-initiative such kawalpemilu.org is welcomed by man as crucial for public confidence and transparency.

 

As of 6am this morning (17 July), the kawalpemilu.org “real count” shows that Jokowi-Kalla leads with 52.82  per cent of votes against Prabowo-Hatta 47.17 per cent of votes with 95.69 per cent of total ballot stations counted. From today the website will start tracking the district level counting results drawn from the DA1 forms (live tracking).

 

Partai Nasdem or the National Democrat party, a member of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla (JK) coalition, also released a so-called “real count” result.  In a press conference last week, its “real count” revealed that Jokowi-JK ticket would win with 53.24 per cent of votes against Prabowo-Hatta with 46.67 per cent of votes.

 

As the counting process continues, the KPU will start the vote counting process in the city/district level, then the provincial level. The most-awaited national vote counting process will be taking place in Jakarta on 21 and 22 July.