Printouts of online news articles insufficient evidence of massive voter fraud: Election Supervisory Agency

Screenshot: HUMAS BAWASLU / Youtube
Screenshot: HUMAS BAWASLU / Youtube

Ever since the April 17 presidential election, Prabowo Subianto and his campaign have claimed to have solid evidence of massive and systematic voter fraud and have submitted multiple reports detailing their allegations to the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), but so far Bawaslu has not found any of their evidence to meet their criteria for massive and systemic fraud.

While one might reasonably expect the bar to be set quite high for evidence of such explosive allegations, the latest official rejection from Bawaslu shows just how flimsy some of the evidence that Prabowo’s camp is relying on to make their claims.

At a plenary meeting yesterday, Bawaslu officials declared that a report claiming massive and systemic voter fraud did not meet their evidentiary standards because it was based on links to online media reports.

“The proof brought in the report, in the form of online news printouts, cannot stand alone, but must be supported by other evidence in the form of documents, letters, or videos that show that there have been massive acts committed by the reported parties which occur within at least 50 percent of all the provincial areas of Indonesia,” Bawaslu member Ratna Dewi Pettalolo said at the hearing as quoted by Kompas.

Bawaslu did not specify what online news reports were used as evidence of the report.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Prabowo’s campaign has used flimsy evidence as the basis for major claims. In fact, while Prabowo claimed he had won by 62% of the vote on the day of the election, it was later revealed that the entire basis for that claim was SMS messages containing vote counts that were supposedly sent from Prabowo volunteers at polling stations across the country (his campaign never released the underlying data).

Regarding Bawaslu’s latest rejection, Prabowo campaign spokesperson Andre Rosiade denied that all of their voter fraud reports were based only on online media, explaining that the supervisory agency was referring to one report from the campaign’s IT volunteer group.  He said there was a second report from the campaign’s legal advocacy team with different evidence.

“It was only the IT volunteer report that was based on online media news. It’s different from the report carried out by the campaign’s legal advocacy team, which features evidence of the alleged massive and systemic fraud,” Andre told reporters yesterday as quoted by Kronologi.

Andre said that the legal advocacy team’s report was not rejected but returned to the campaign by Bawaslu because it was not submitted properly, so they intended to refile it immediately.

In a further sign of the growing rift between Prabowo and his coalition’s partner the National Mandate Party (PAN), PAN Deputy General Chairperson Bara Hasibuan called the idea that a voter fraud report be filed on the basis of online news articles “ridiculous”.

“How come it’s only based on links from the internet? [The evidence for such allegations] must be strongly authentic,” Bara said.

In a surprise move, the General Election Commission (KPU) released the official results of their real count early this morning announced that President Joko Widodo had officially won the election, a day before the official results were due and expected to be announced.

Prabowo’s campaign has already declared they will not seek to challenge the election results in the court system (as Prabowo did, unsuccessfully, the first time he lost to Jokowi in 2014), instead encouraging supporters to exercise “people power” in the form of protests against the election results and KPU.

There has been much talk about Prabowo supporters holding massive protests in Jakarta at the KPU and in other parts of the country tomorrow, when it was thought that KPU would announce the official election results. Police have advised the public not to participate in the protests due to concerns about potential terrorist attacks.

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