Tara Marchelin, Jakarta – The Election Supervisory Agency, or Bawaslu, has released its 2020 regional election vulnerability index, which measures risks of disruption during the election's preliminary stages.
The vulnerability index is divided into four categories – social, political, infrastructure and pandemic-related – the last one of which is expected to have a strong bearing on the preparation and organization of the election.
"In the preliminary stages, verifying supporters' data and updating the voters' list will be especially difficult. Voters and election officers will have to present themselves in person. This is why both processes scored high in the vulnerability index," Bawaslu commissioner Mohammad Afifuddin said on Tuesday.
The process for verifying the supporters' data will start on June 24. The voter list update will be done on July 15.
Afif said vulnerability index maps all potential obstructions during the election so the government can use the data to prevent them.
The index's social category calculates risks of natural and social disasters, including threats of violence or intimidation against election organizers.
"In the social category, a total of 221 cities and districts have a medium vulnerability score and 40 cities and districts get a high score. These latter districts include Kotabaru, South Manokwari, Sleman, Kainama, Nabire, Dharmasraya, Bandung, Pekalongan, Lamongan and North Halmahera," Afif said in an online press conference.
The political category calculates risks of disruptions caused by lack of coordination among election organizers, slack recruitment of election officers, civil servants' lack of neutrality and misuse of the election budget.
According to Bawaslu data, 211 cities and districts have a medium political vulnerability score. A total of 50 earn a high score.
"Districts in the latter list include South Manokwari, Sijunjung, Makassar, Lamongan, Sungai Penuh, Mamuju, Klaten, Sukoharjo, Aru islands and Agam, Afif said.
In the pandemic category, a total of 144 cities and districts get a medium vulnerability score and 117 get a high score, including South Manokwari, Supiori, Solok, Sijunjung, Meranti Islands, Malinau and North Morowali.
"In the pandemic category, we consider possible problems with the election budget – which might be compromised by government spending on Covid-19 mitigation, data on Covid-19 patients, government support for pandemic mitigation, public misgivings about the regional election and difficulties in election surveillance," Afif said.
Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian said the Bawaslu must try to overcome potential problems identified in the vulnerability index and at the same time continue to fulfill its function of monitoring the election from a neutral standpoint.
"The Bawaslu will have its work cut out because of the pandemic. Organizers, including the General Election Commission [KPU], could easily make mistakes under extreme pressure. The pandemic factor must be considered before imposing sanctions," he said.
The minister, a former police general, said the Bawaslu should solve election problems through mediation or by imposing administrative sanctions.
"The Bawaslu should never tolerate election violations, but the sanctions they impose should be proportional to the crimes," Tito said.
More money needed for PPE
Even though the election's preliminary stages had begun according to schedule on June 15, the agency still does not have enough money to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for election officers, Bawaslu chairman Abhan pointed out.
He said regional governments had already completed their budget before the pandemic began in March, which meant in many cases there were no provisions for buying the protective gear.
"Some regional governments have already restructured their budget, but others are unable to do so. They need extra funding from the state budget. We've already reported this issue to the Home Affairs Ministry," Abhan said.
KPU chairman Arief Budiman said the commission had been tinkering with alternative budgeting to make sure there's enough PPE to go around before June 24, the start of the supporter data verification process.
Arief said the central government can use the state budget to buy the PPEs or ordered regional governments to revise their budget.
He said the Home Affairs Ministry could also demand regional governments to donate some of the PPEs, including face shields, masks and gloves through the regional Covid-19 task forces.
"The voter list update will be on July 15. We still have enough time to buy more PPEs for around 300,000 election officers," he said.
In response, the Home Affairs Minister said Rp 5 trillion ($354 million) from the election's total budget of Rp 15 trillion had already been transferred to 270 regional governments.
Tito said regional governments could move another Rp 9.1 trillion to buy more PPEs.
"The regional governments should transfer the money today or tomorrow so we can start buying the PPEs before the next stage of the election," Tito said.