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Millions of ballots damaged JAKARTA - Here come the ballot papers: A few million are damaged, thousands contain mistakes or are missing and millions more have yet to arrive. With the legislative election just 17 days away, President Megawati Soekarnoputri is now voicing fears about whether the poll will run smoothly, while the General Elections Commission (KPU) continues to assure the public things are under control.
KPU head Nazaruddin Sjamsuddin said on Thursday the printing of the 160 million ballot papers for the House of Representatives (DPR) candidates was 96.6 percent complete. Meanwhile 83.5 percent of papers for Regional Representative Council (DPD) candidates had also been printed. "The situation has improved from the day before," he said.
Meanwhile, Megawati told a technical meeting of governors and regents the people "could provide the ballot boxes and polling booths" themselves if the equipment did not arrive on time for the legislative election day on April 5. Regional heads could then concentrate on the distribution of poll materials, she said. However, some of these materials -- ballot papers for Regental Legislative Council (DPRD II) members in 11 provinces -- were yet to be printed.
Nazaruddin said West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu, Bangka Belitung, Yogyakarta, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, Southeast Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, and North Maluku were the provinces affected. Over 160 million ballot papers are being printed for the DPRD II member candidates in 32 provinces. Meanwhile, many of the papers that had arrived in the regions were full of mistakes, damaged or incomplete. In North Sumatra, local KPUD chief Irfan Buana Nasution said many mistakes had been found in the ballot papers and in every package of 500 sheets, about 20 were missing or damaged. The mistakes included the wrong colors used in the printing of political party logos or the misspelling of legislative candidates' names.
He said the province had only 50 percent of its ballot papers for the DPR and DPD, while none had arrived for the candidates of the provincial and regional councils (DPRD I and II). North Sumatra governor Rizal Nurdin has ordered the burning of the damaged ballot papers, to avoid possible voting abuses. In the Kediri regency in East Java, all 1,191,799 papers were damaged, a report said. There were a number of holes along the folds in the papers, Antara reported, quoting the head of the KPUD, Edi Winarto.
Meanwhile, in East Nusa Tenggara the KPUD is short of about 5 million to 10 million ballot papers. "If we do not receive the papers by March 25, it will be impossible for us to convene the election," KPUD chief Robinson Ratukore said, citing distribution problems. In the West Nusa Tenggara province, more than 3 million ballot papers were damaged, KPUD official Zainul Aidi said. Also, two regional representative council candidates' numbers were jumbled up. "We have not decided what steps we should take, while it is impossible for us to reprint another three million papers," Zainul said.
In Semarang an owner of a printing company commissioned to print the ballot papers, Suwanto, was questioned by police, as papers had already reached the public. Police suspected one of his employees stole the papers although they could not decide on a possible motive. The printing company CV Aneka Ilmu has received orders to print 25 million ballot papers from the KPU and had standard security arrangements provided by the police to secure them.
Six printing firms have already pulled out of the job printing the ballot papers because they could not meet the KPU's tight schedule. This forced it once again to extend the deadline for the distribution of the papers to March 18 to reach areas outside Java and for March 20 for those in Java. The KPU has admitted making a mistake in appointing a number or firms incapable of printing the papers and Nazaruddin has ordered an internal investigation into how it happened. One printing firm, PT Tricipta Adimandiri, was found to have only filed a tender to supply KPU with ink, not for printing the ballot papers.

Posted in Elections @ 19 March 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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