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GATRA 30/V, June 12, 1999 COVER STORY : A Race With Ballot Counting

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Number 30/V, June 12, 1999

A Race With Ballot Counting

The vote counting system by the KPU was far more reliable and transparent compared with the previous general elections. However, foreign observers are to be included in the counting.

Among the many rooms of the Office of the General Election Committee (KPU), one has special treatment. A bit secluded place on the third floor. Thatís where they installed a server of the IBM AS/400 computer, now storing the ballot result. The room was also provided with one personal computer. That was the only room being guarded by the security officers. To enter the room, people must use magnetic card for their identification card.

"Not everyone is admitted to enter here," said Dhana Dharsono, Chairman of the KPU Work Unit of the Information System Department, with his office room located on the second floor of an old building of the KPU, on Jalan Imam Bonjol 52, Central Jakarta. Particularly at this time when the vote counting is at its peak time. Thatís where the data processing of the vote result throughout Indonesia is being made. This data processing being carried out by 50 personnel will become an official reference, for this was established by the KPU with the assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

It was a tough job to be carried out by Dhana and his colleagues. The data was collected from 320.000 polling booths (TPS) dispersed at approximately 67.000 villages, 4.000 subdisctricts, and 317 regencies. The Indonesians and people the world over are waiting for the result.

In an effort to gather fast data, the KPU applies the Cisco Haj network with computer terminals installed in almost all capital city of the regencies. This network linked to satellite serving the banks with on-line facility such as Bank BNI 1946 and Bank Rakyat Indonesia. The Cisco Haj was chosen, according to Andhika Triwidada of the Central Computer and Information System of the Bandung Institute of Technology, because it is a closed network system. "It would be very difficult to access and offers excellent protection," said Andhika, the man entrusted by the KPU to counter the hackers Ė those who amused themselves by hacking away data through internet or other networks.

In an effort to protect the data from either local or overseas hackers, the KPU installed two networks. The first, a closed network for the input of data through the Cisco Haj. In this network, "Outsiders are not allowed to access," Andhika said. The second, a network which could be accessed through Internet and telephone. It is an open network that is vulnerable to the hackers. However, for security measures, the KPU provides back-up server where the data is supplied from the main frame.

The data from the main frame was a collection of the ballots coming from all regencies. At this time, there were only 270 regencies installed with terminals. "About 60 regencies which we canít cover yet," Dhana told Rohmat Haryadi of GATRA. Therefore, the ballots must be delivered to the capital city of the province and made their data entry from there. Several regencies in East Timor, Irian Jaya, and some regencies in South Sulawesi, Maluku, West Kalimantan, and North Sumatra had no direct access. For Aceh, all documents must be manually delivered to Jakarta. "Several banks there were threatened of being put ablaze if they offered to send data," Dhana said.

At the KPU Computer Center, the entered data are counted and tabulated. Afterwards, the KPU server will forward the data to two distribution centers. They are, to the server to be access by Internet with address and server data for telephone (021-21491900, 031-3200000, or 0809-1070699), or facsimile (021-21491900). "One hour after data entry into the regency terminal, it can be accessed by Internet," Andika promised.

Rather different from the 1997 General Election, the data presented by the KPU this time could be traced to the ballots produced by each TPS. This is made possible because the ballot collected from the TPS, which was written on the C Form, was collected at the polling committee (PPS) at the village or subdistrict office on Form D. This Form D listed details of each TPS result then forwarded to the subdistricts.

At the subdistrict polling committee (PPK), the data was collected into a new form, DA4. The new form listed details of the result from the said subdistrict which was then further delivered to the regency. At the regency polling committee (PPD II), the data was copied into DB4 Form listing all the ballots of all parties in the regency.

The result was entered into the computer and send to the KPU through the Cisco Haj network. Particularly for Java and Bali, a short cut can be made. The data from PPS could be directly transported to the PPD, because of its traveling distance using land transportation can be made within six hours. However, the travel of the ballot document didnít stop here. The TPS Form is then forwarded to the capital city of the province and continued to the PPI office in Jakarta. "This is for the purpose of making counter-checking for any error in data," said Dhana.

At the regency level, it is the bankís staff who entered the data, because they are accustomed to operating computer. They have been specially trained to enter the data since three weeks ago. Their total at each regency varied from two to nine operators. For data delivery protection, each regency is provided with different password. Without the code number which was held by the chairman of the PPD II, data canít be send. Therefore, before sending the data to the KPU, the operators will first print the data to have the approval of the chairman of the PPD II and witnesses. If it is OK, the chairman of the PPD II will provide the password.

Operating the information system would certainly need an enormous sum of money of approximately US$ 2,5 million to US$ 3 million ( about Rp 20 billion to Rp 24 billion with the exchange rate of Rp 8.000 to the dollar). According to Dhana, this is regarded as inexpensive. Because the computer equipment at the KPU was on a lease basis with IBM, also with its bank networks. "In order to build own network, US$ 20 million budget would still be inadequate," Dhana said.

UNDP not only installed their ballot counting network. At Aryaduta Hotel in Kwwitang, Central Jakarta, a Joint Operations Media Center (JOMC) was installed. The information center was prepared four months ago, developed by several countries who were accustomed in handling the general election. For instance, the International Foundation for Election Systems, the Australian Electoral Commission and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

The Media Center also processed the officials data collected by PPK throughout Indonesia. The data was accommodated through facsimile transmissions and telephone calls which further enter into the 60 computers for tabulation. According to the Operation Director of the Australian Electoral Commission, Ross Mackay, 150 telephone and facsimile lines had been provided. 400 people had been recruited to operate the JOMC. "We have designed the system that will guarantee the integrity of the data that we processed," said Mackay on the inauguration of the JOMC on last May 19.

Data already tabulated by the JOMC then forwarded into Internet through the KPU web site. This is also accessed and became as reference for all national and international institutions, both through facsimile and telephone. Because the data collected directly from 4.000 subdistricts, the result of JOMC is estimated to come out faster that the data collected by the KPU. At least, a race is going on between both institutes. Unfortunately, the JOMC data canít be traced as far back to the TPS.

So far, from the system, the new method of counting creates no problem at all. The most crucial, according to Dhana, is the supervision of the documents. In addition to some regencies that canít be reached by the Cisco Haj system, also because of the long time and distance travel by the documents. Therefore, Dhana said further, the important thing is the participation of the community during the travel of the documents.

Again, from the aspect of the equipment, it is okay. When the light is off, a reserve power generator was prepared that could maintain uninterrupted power supply for one hour. "The critical things was such as rioting, bomb threat or thing like that," Andhika said.

The ballot counting in the 1999 General Election that was prepared instantly and under a heavy political pressure has turned out to run smoothly. The former President Jimmy Carter of the United States who visited Bali and Jakarta, keep shaking his head. "This is the most complicated procedures that I have ever seen. Too many parties, too many districts, and too many regulations," said the chairman of independent general election observer, The Carter Center, when touring and observing the Rempoa TPS, South Jakarta, last Monday, as reported by Wilis Pinidji of GATRA. "Whatever the result of the general election, this is the aspiration of the whole people of Indonesia. Each of them should be willing to accept the result peacefully," he added. That should be case, Mister Carter.


  • GOLKAR, Booed ......!
  • A Race With Ballot Counting
  • Looking For Any Gap Before Being Made Official
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