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Prabowo's rivals and monitoring groups have alleged voting fraud in the Indonesian election, so can the results be annulled?

ABC News - February 23, 2024

Hellena Souisa – Indonesians have voted for their next president, but there's yet to be an official announcement of who has won as vote counting continues.

Informal tallies, known as the quick count – which uses large samples of votes from polling stations – and the ongoing real count, have indicated who is in line to take over from Joko Widodo.

As the official results are being sorted, several civil organisations and some candidates' campaign teams have alleged election fraud.

Who is leading the vote count?

According to the official count by the General Election Commission, Prabowo Subianto, who is paired with Mr Widodo's son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, is leading.

Of the 74.21 per cent of total votes that have been counted as of Thursday afternoon, Mr Subianto is ahead with 58.8 per cent of the votes, followed by Anies Baswedan with 24.1 per cent, and Ganjar Pranowo with 17 per cent.

But organisations monitoring the election have claimed there are several anomalies indicating potential fraud in this election.

What are the allegations?

Several civil society organisations have alleged election fraud across almost all provinces in Indonesia before, during, and after votes were cast.

They said that before voting, many local authorities were found to have been influencing voters to choose a specific pair of candidates.

"This was done both indirectly through soft approaches and directly with verbal threats," said Okky Madasari, a novelist and sociologist who runs OM Institute, a research-based organisation.

She said local leaders were also trying to sway people by giving away bags filled with groceries or cash.

Ms Madasari said bribes were also paid by heads of religious boarding schools to students, ranging from hundreds of thousands of rupiahs to Rp1 million (about $100) per person, to have them vote for a certain candidate.

Indonesians are eligible to vote once they turn 17.

"We found local authorities' intervention to be a key factor in influencing voters' decisions," she said.

This is in line with the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), that many state officials were not neutral during the elections.

Luky Djani from Jaga Pemilu (Guard the Election), run by election monitoring volunteers, said he had received about 300 reports of alleged violations.

Among them were allegations ballots had been completed before the day of the election, and that incorrect results were taken from polling stations, skyrocketing votes for certain candidates – mostly for Mr Subianto and Mr Raka.

Feri Amsari, a researcher at the Centre for Constitutional Studies at Andalas University, said there were indications of fraud even before the election.

Mr Widodo's government ramped up its rice social assistance program and raised the salaries of officials and civil servants, including members of the General Election Commission and the Election Supervisory Body, days before voting day.

"This is unhealthy for democracy because such policies could benefit the incumbent's son – who is running in the presidential contest," Mr Amsari said.

The government has denied that any one candidate benefits from the social assistance programme, while Mr Widodo has asked all parties not to merely complain about the allegations.

"Don't just shout about cheating," Mr Widodo said. "If there is evidence, take it to the Election Supervisory Body, take it to the Constitutional Court."

What do the candidates say?

Ganjar Pranowo received the fewest votes, according to the ongoing count. He was the first candidate to comment on the results.

"Do you believe that I only got such few votes?" Mr Pranowo asked reporters last week.

Mr Pranowo's campaign team this week formed a group to investigate the alleged election fraud.

Mr Pranowo also encouraged the two political parties that back him to use their parliamentary right of inquiry to dig into the claims.

Another presidential candidate, Anies Baswedan, has similar concerns.

"We found the biggest problem was not in the voting booths, but in the pre-voting activities," Mr Baswedan said on Tuesday. "This finding is ... worrying."

Mr Baswedan said his legal team was collecting all available data so the public could "get accurate, thorough, and verified information".

He has also said he will support any inquiry launched by the parties that support his opponent, Mr Pranowo.

Mr Subianto's national campaign team denied there had been election fraud behind his victory.

"We will prove that these assumptions and accusations are not true," said Ahmad Muzani, the vice-chairman of the campaign team.

Can the election results be annulled?

In short – yes. The election law states that severe election violations can result in the disqualification of candidates.

Constitutional law expert from Gadjah Mada University, Dr Herlambang Wiratraman, believes the 2024 election results can be justifiably annulled.

"This election started from a process that involved so many manipulations, and the fraud occurred long before the voting," Dr Wiratraman told ABC.

"So with the framework of thinking about structured, systematic, and massive [fraud], the election results can already be annulled."

The final vote count, which is expected to be announced by the General Election Commission on March 20, can be disputed.

But the Constitutional Court, which would oversee such matters, has so far only played a role in mediating vote-count discrepancies, according to Dr Wiratraman.

He said it has never taken the initiative to uncover cases of fraud – as required by the law.

Dr Wiratraman added the only other option was to go through the parliamentary right of inquiry.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-23/indonesia-election-result-fraud-prabowo-vote-count/10349378