Subject: East Timor To Learn From Local Elections

also Factbox-Possible Pitfalls In Indonesia's Massive Vote

Jakarta Globe

April 8, 2009

Antara, Eras Poke

East Timor To Learn From Local Elections

Though the General Elections Commission, or KPU, has faced widespread criticism for its preparations of today’s legislative elections, it has found sympathy from at least one quarter ­ neighboring East Timor.

Delegations from East Timor will monitor today’s elections as part of a comparative study in Surabaya, East Java Province, Jakarta and Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara Province, or NTT,

Eduardo Casimiro de Deus, delegation head for the Technical Secretariat of Electoral Administration, or STAE, in Kupang, said on Wednesday that 11 commissioners were hoping to learn from Indonesia ahead of its own elections in some districts and villages later this year.

“We will monitor the election process and how the General Elections Commission [KPU] has organized it,” he said.

De Seus said the KPU was facing complex problems as Indonesia was a vast country and conducting direct, free and fair elections might be challenging.

He also said that his team would learn from the KPU about how to distribute election materials, including ballots, on schedule, one of the key areas in which the KPU has been criticized.

The whole monitoring system, he said, would be applied in the East Timor election, which, like Indonesia, would involve direct elections.

Another foundation from East Timor involved in the election monitoring in Kupang was a diplomatic foundation, the National Commission of Elections, or CNE.

Djidon de Haan, spokesman for NTT’s General Elections Commission, or KPUD, said on Tuesday that CNE had stationed 15 members throughout Indonesia.

So far, there are at least three foundations that will monitor the legislative election in East Nusa Tenggara


Factbox-Possible Pitfalls In Indonesia's Massive Vote

JAKARTA, April 7 (Reuters) - Indonesia's parliamentary elections on April 9 will be a huge exercise in democracy and logistics.

More than 170 million registered voters across the archipelago of 17,000 or so islands will go to the polls to pick candidates for the national and local parliaments, choosing from about 11,000 candidates for the former, representing 38 different parties (or 44 in the case of Aceh province).

Some observers estimate that only 60 percent of the eligible voters will cast their ballots, down from 70 per cent in the 2004 elections, partly because of various potential logistical difficulties, including the following:

* Some polling stations have received damaged ballot papers, or none at all.

* Some voters have not been notified about where they are registered to vote.

* Polling stations are open between 7 a.m. and 12 midday, which some analysts fear is not long enough to handle 170 million or so voters. Each station has four polling booths, and polling station chiefs have the power to add a fifth one.

* Voters have their fingers stained with indelible ink once they have voted, a measure intended to stop fraud, but critics say the ink can be removed with water and hand cream.

* Polling day, April 9, is a public holiday, as is the following day, Good Friday, so many voters are expected to head out of town for a long weekend break and may give voting a miss.

* The electoral roll is littered with the names of the deceased and fictitious people, and some names appear multiple times. The KPU has promised each political party a soft copy of the voter list to check for such problems, but some regional party branches still have not received a copy.

* Polling station chiefs wield enormous power and must sign each ballot paper before a voter casts a ballot in order for it to be declared valid. Low pay increases the risk of corruption at this stage of the voting process, critics say.

* In the 2004 elections, observers monitored voting throughout the day. This year they are only allowed to monitor the opening of the ballot box after polls close. At all other times, they are only allowed to observe from outside the polling stations.

* Polling station officials count the votes in public and record the tally on a publicly visible list called a C2. The polling station chief then transcribes the C2 list onto a tally sheet called a C1, which is sent to the KPU headquarters where the official national vote count takes place.

Observers are unable to see the C1 list, fuelling fears that polling station chiefs may demand money from parties to accurately transcribe the true tally.

* Uncertainty over whether the voter lists are correct increases the chances parties will challenge the results in some parts of the country. That could lead to outbreaks of violence and delay the presidential poll while the Constitutional Court decides whether to order a recount.

* In order to win seats in parliament, a party must win more than 2.5 percent of the votes. The threshold will probably eliminate many of the 38 parties, and could also spark voter dissatisfaction or violence. (Reporting by Sunanda Creagh; Editing by Sara Webb and Bill Tarrant)

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