Jakarta – The Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of senator-elect Evi Apita Maya from West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), rejecting a legal challenge filed by her rival who accused Evi of excessively editing her ballot photo to attract more voters in April's legislative election.
Evi's rival in the election, Regional Representatives Council (DPD) member Farouk Muhammad, disputed Evi's victory in NTB and accused her of dishonesty and violating electoral rules.
"[The court] rejects the plaintiff's demand in its entirety," Constitutional Court Chief Justice Anwar Usman said on Friday.
In his legal challenge, Farouk said that Evi had excessively edited her photo on the ballot as well as in various campaign materials, including banners.
Farouk said that Evi was not being honest by making significant digital changes to her photo, thereby violating the rules.
Justice Suhartoyo, however, said the court could find no relation between the use of a digitally enhanced profile photo and voters' preferences.
"It is hard to measure the relevance of a candidate's photo on the ballot with their chance of winning, as each voter has his or her own preferences in casting their vote and they keep their choice private," Suhartoyo said.
The court also ruled that the case fell under the category of administrative violation – which could not be filed with the court – and should have been reported to the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) instead.
Evi's photo on the election ballot and campaign materials had not caused any controversy until the General Elections Commission (KPU) announced that she had won the election.
Farouk's legal team reported Evi's photo to Bawaslu NTB only five days after the final vote tally was announced.
Evi told the press after the hearing that she was grateful for the court's ruling. "I am thankful to the people of NTB who have prayed for my victory. After this I will start working right away for the good of the people." (gis/afr)