Jakarta – The General Elections Commission (KPU) is determined to provide a way for self-isolating and hospitalized people with COVID-19 to exercise their voting rights in the simultaneous regional elections (Pilkada) on Wednesday, and is sending local poll administrators (KPPS) to hospitals and isolation facilities to collect their ballots.
The KPU immediately countered earlier viral misinformation that persons with COVID-19 should vote at their registered polling station (TPS), saying that the commission had procedures in place for voters with the disease.
"We do not allow COVID-19 patients who are self-isolating or being treated at hospitals to cast their votes at polling stations. That is not the procedure," KPU commissioner I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka Sandi said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
He said that two KPPS in full personal protective equipment would instead visit COVID-19 patients at the admitting hospitals to collect their ballots.
However, Article 72, paragraph 1 of KPU Regulation (PKPU) No. 6/2020, which was specifically issued on July 7, 2020 on holding the simultaneous regional elections during the "nonnatural disaster of coronavirus disease 2019", stipulates that people in self-isolation or those hospitalized for COVID-19 may cast their votes at the nearest TPS.
Paragraph 3 of the same article says that up to two KPPS from the nearest TPS would be dispatched to collect the ballots of self-isolating and hospitalized people with COVID-19, with voting to start at noon. The workers will also be accompanied by an election observer, an officer from the regency-level Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) or a TPS supervisor.
Article 73, paragraph 1 then stipulates the same procedure for two KPPS to collect the ballots of self-isolating voters with COVID-19. Paragraph 5c of the article says that the KPPS will be provided with PPE during the course of their duty.
"Poll administrators, accompanied by Panwaslu supervisors or TPS supervisors and an [election observer] will arrive with the election materials when visiting the voters [with COVID-19]," KPU chairman Arief Budiman said at a June 22 hearing with the House of Representatives.
Arief said at the time that the KPU would coordinate with hospitals and local COVID-19 task forces on the technical details of the voting procedures for people with COVID-19.
"Election workers that visit voters [with COVID-19] must wear full PPE and follow the health protocols to prevent COVID-19 infection," he added.
Public information and communications director general Widodo Muktiyo of the Communication and Information Ministry said that providing a voting mechanism for people with COVID-19 was the government's responsibility in guaranteeing the rights of all citizens under any circumstances.
The 2020 regional elections will be held on Dec. 9 in 270 regencies and municipalities. (ami)