Thursday, 18 August, 2022

Indonesia gears up for jumbo polls

JAYAPURA: From sending ballot boxes by elephant in Sumatra to keeping voters safe in Papua’s rebel territory, Indonesia is pulling out all the stops for one of the world’s biggest one-day polls across a vast archipelago of 260 million, reports AFP.

Over 190 million registered voters in the Muslim-majority country will cast their votes in just eight hours of polling today (Wednesday), with the election commission battling torrential downpours, voter fraud and damaging cyber attacks.

And if that wasn’t hard enough, the world’s third-largest democracy behind India and the United States is staging a first for its two-decade-old system, which rose from the ashes of a military-backed dictatorship: holding presidential, parliamentary and local polls all in one day.

“This is a very big country so we’ll do our best,” Arief Budiman, the commission’s chief, told a recent gathering of journalists and diplomats.

“But we’re very busy this year.” He’s not kidding.

Calling on four-legged transport, motorbikes, speedboats and planes, officials have been distributing cardboard ballot boxes—guarded by armed security staff—to every corner of the 4,800 kilometre (3,000 miles) long archipelago, which is home to hundreds of ethnic groups and languages.

While elephants carried ballot boxes through Sumatra’s Aceh province, horses were used to reach to remote communities in the southeast corner of Java island.