Elderly voters in the red-zone Sleman reluctant to vote

Muhammad Kurniawan had been waiting at the TPS 50 polling station in Depok, Sleman, Yogyakarta for seven hours on the election day of regional leaders on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, but he did not see any elderly voters coming to the location.

The 51-year-old man, who was assigned to lead the team of local poll administrators (KPPS), was wondering why none of the elderly voters present. In fact, half of the voters in Sleman were senior citizens.

Until the polling station was closed at 3 p.m, only 165 of the total 350 people showed up at the station to exercise their rights to vote. Kurniawan assumed that the low level of participation was due to the spread of coronavirus.

As of December 8, 2020, there were 607 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Depok Subdistrict, significantly contributing to the total number of cases in Sleman Regency.

“I think the pandemic is the main reason (why people were reluctant to come). In the previous poll in 2015, the elderly voters joined the election,” said Kurniawan on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

The low level of voter turnout also occurred in another polling station in the same subdistrict. In TPS 04, only 258 out of 377 registered voters exercised their rights, said Purnomo, head of the team of local poll administrators. He said that most of the voters were young residents. The elderly voters, he added, were hesitant to visit the polling station, although the team had ensured that strict health protocol would be carried out during the voting.

In another polling station, TPS 05, voters began to come at around 7:30 a.m. They were directed to go wash their hands first upon arriving at the station, followed by body temperature checking. Those who showed a temperature above 37 Celsius degree were asked to go to a separate booth located three meters away from the other booth.

However, the availability of this special booth intended for the voters with higher body temperature did not make voters more enthusiastic to join the election, thus failing to increase the voter turnout.

One day before the voting, the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) released the Election Precariousness Index (IKP) 2020. This index puts Sleman Regency at the Level 5, with a value of IKP reaching 58.49. One of the indicators in this index is related to the participation of voters amid the Covid-19 pandemic situation. In fact, the regency targeted that voter turnout in this election would reach 80 percent.

Arjuna Al Ichsan Siregar, coordinator of the legal division of Sleman election Supervisory Body, said that based on his monitoring, in TPS 53 polling station in Pongung Lor, there were only 160 voters from 360 lists of voters. This condition is very different from the previous polls in 2019 (Presidential Election) and 2015 (Regional Election), where the polling station ran out of ballots due to the high level of participation.

“On the contrary, we are lacking voters and have excessive ballots now,” Arjuna said on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

Arjuna assumed that the low level of voter participation was due to uneven dissemination of information about the voting. In addition, the high number of Covid-19 cases in Sleman also had a significant impact on the low turnout this election.

“People still feel unsafe, thus the participation of voters is not as expected,” Arjuna said.

Zainuri Ichsan, a commissioner of the Yogyakarta provincial election commission, admitted that the commission had not been able to monitor the participation of voters because the commission’s server Electronic Recapitulation System (Sirekap) encountered errors, even until the evening of the voting day.

“And since the results of the quick count are still unknown until now, we have yet to know the (level of) participation,” he said.

According to Zainuri, if the manual counting has not been completed soon, the national election commission will issue a policy to find out the voter turnout in the 2020 Regional Election.

Previously, both the Sleman Regency election commission and the Yogyakarta provincial election commission had set a target of 80 percent of voters participation.

“If the results of recapitulation at the district level has not been completed, the national commission will likely issue a certain policy,” he said.

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