Jakarta – Candidates in the upcoming regional elections found to be violating COVID-19 health protocols during their campaigns will be subject to various sanctions, including three-day bans on holding campaign events, the West Java Elections Supervisory Agency has warned.
The agency's supervision division coordinator, Zaki Hilmi, said the agency had found 119 health protocol violations during campaign activities in eight regions in the province in which elections will be held in December.
"We have issued warning letters," Zaki said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He said the agency was weighing a prohibition on holding campaign events for three days for similar violations, as stipulated in General Elections Commission (KPU) Regulation No. 13/2020 on regional elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, issued in late September.
Of the eight regions in West Java holding the elections, Bandung regency has had the most violations with 35, according to Zaki.
"The most frequent types of violations were the number of [attendees] exceeding 50, non-wearing of masks and the involvement of elderly and minors," he said.
Zaki congratulated those of the 25 candidate pairs in West Java who had implemented proper health protocols following the agency's advice.
With rising concerns that political campaigning in the lead-up to the regional elections could become super-spreader events for COVID-19, the KPU has been continuously hosting simulations for the regional elections set to commence simultaneously on Dec. 9.
The commission is required to conduct thorough simulations given the magnitude of this year's elections, in which some 100.9 million voters – more than a third of the 274 million people in the country – will elect nine governors, 224 regents and 37 mayors in 270 regions.
The KPU plans to hold rehearsals every week leading up to polling day, since previous simulations have proven insufficient in assessing its preparedness.
The KPU has also asked candidates to refrain from hosting campaign rallies in person and instead hold them online, as the government presses ahead with voting under the shadow of the pandemic.
Some parties have expressed their commitment to prioritizing virtual forms of campaigning and to be disciplined in applying COVID-19 health protocols.
Jumadi, political observer from Tanjungpura University in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, said the key to the success of the simultaneous regional elections was synergy among all stakeholders.
"We will be holding the regional elections amid an abnormal situation. We can overcome this by taking care of each other," he said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com. (syk)