Two mayoral candidates of Medan, North Sumatra, Akhyar Nasution and Bobby Nasution (Bobby is President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s son-in-law) had finished casting their votes in two separate polling stations. Akhyar casted his vote in the polling station located just 100 meters away from his home in the Brayan Darat subdistrict, Medan Timur district in Medan on Wednesday, Dec. 9. The polling station officially listed about 394 voters. Akhyar got the 29th number on the queue list.
Prior to casting the vote in the polling station, Akhyar first underwent all the COVID-19 prevention protocols conducted by KPPS officers, from wearing face masks, measuring body temperature, washing his hands and wearing single-use hand gloves.
“Insya Allah (God willing) the regional elections are conducted safely and conducively,” Akhyar said upon using his voting rights. He said he hoped the Medan citizens would use their voting rights during the elections while complying closely with the health protocols. Akhyar was also quite confident that he would be able to outperform his rival Bobby.
“Insya Allah I would win but we don’t want to make any claims too soon. I guess this is the best thing to do for the Medan people. I’m sure that in casting their votes, the Medan people are considering the candidates instead of the political parties [which back these candidates],” Akhyar said.
Separately, Bobby said that he would accept whatever the elections’ results were: “whoever the winner, this is the people’s victory,” he said upon casting his vote in the Taman Setia Budi Indah housing complex polling station in Medan.
Bobby was accompanied by his wife Kahiyang Ayu (Jokowi’s daughter) on the polling station. They were both wearing the white-and-blue clothes as they were arriving in the polling station at 10:08 a.m. The KPPS officers performed the same health protection measures they had done on Akhyar to Bobby and Kahiyang.
Bobby refused to speak about his predictions about the possible outcomes of this year’s regional elections. “We are still casting our votes. Hopefully we will get a lot [of votes]. We have the quick count system, etc. Whatever the results might be, me and my team will be waiting for the KPU to announce its official results,” he said.
Bobby continued that the people did not need to be afraid of walking to the polling stations to cast their votes amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the KPU had already had enough health protocol equipment to protect everyone’s health.
“I believe that the KPU, along with the organizers, have already educated the public on how to protect themselves as they are going to the polling stations. It’s not as scary as many people might think it would be, in compliance with all the health protocols applied to govern the whole process. We have always told people, for example, to carry their own writing tools to the polling booths,” Bobby said.
Previously, the Medan chapter of the KPU has already set a target of increasing the voter turnout in the 2020 regional elections to 70 percent from the previous regional elections in 2015. The KPU has listed 1,610,001 voters. Yet, jaring.id observed that some polling stations were quite empty and quiet. The polling station where Bobby casted his vote, for instance, was visited by 124 people only, out of the 314 voters listed by the KPU.
A KPPS officer named Helty Susilo said that the number of voters in this year’s regional elections was considerably lower than the 2015 elections.
Meanwhile, Jusuf Melan, one of the voters, said he once doubted whether he would cast his vote in this year’s regional elections, considering the pandemic situation. He said he was also worried that the polling stations would turn into new COVID-19 infection clusters in Medan. Yet, he gathered enough courage to vote, after going through all the health protocols necessary, considering the elections happened once in five years only in Indonesia.
“It’s a shame if we skip this elections although I was actually quite anxious due to the COVID-19 situation,” he said.
In Medan’s mayoral election, two candidate pairs are running for office. The first one is the Akhyar-Salman Alfarisi pair supported by the Prosperous Justice Party and the Democratic Party. The incumbent pair is being challenged by Bobby-Aulia Rahman pair supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Great Indonesian Movement party (Gerindra), the Golkar party, the National-Democratic party (Nasdem), the United Development Party (PPP), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) and the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI).
Based on the results of surveys on the Medan regional elections conducted by five different survey organizations on Dec. 8, a day before elections, four among them said Bobby’s pair was outnumbering the Akhyar pair in terms of electability. These survey organizations are: Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), the Institute for Political Analysis and Strategy (InPAS), Indobarometer and Survei Sentral. SMRC indicated the Bobby pair would gain 54 percent more votes than the Akhyar pair, which got 31.7 percent support. The InPAS survey, meanwhile, revealed the Bobby pair electability comprised 41.8 percent, and as for the Akhyar pair, the electability rate stands at 36.3 percent.
This report was made possible by cooperation between Jaring.id and Suara.com. During the 2020 regional elections, we focus on producing news stories regarding the health aspects of the voting process.