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Acting Village Head Beats Incumbent in Jembatan Rajo Election

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2018 Author: Nuzul Iskandar

Villagers witnessing ballots being count at a polling station on October 7, 2017 (Photo: Nuzul Iskandar).
Villagers witnessing ballots being count at a polling station on October 7, 2017 (Photo: Nuzul Iskandar).

Merangin. People of Jembatan Rajo Village have elected their leader for the next six years. The Village Head Election on Saturday, October 7, 2017, was won by Hijazi, Acting Village Head since mid May 2017. He defeated four other candidates including the incumbent Azwan by a landslide.

Hijazi got 286 votes, followed by Muhammadin (youth activist) with 193 votes, Azwan (incumbent) with 137 votes, Samsudin (adat leader) with 123 votes, and Ikhsan (community leader), who only received 16 votes.

The voting process was held at two polling stations (TPS). TPS 1 was located at the Integrated Health Post Building next to the village government office in Hamlet 1. The station was designated for 527 voters from Hamlet 1 and Hamlet 4. The second station was erected at a resident’s house in Hamlet 2, for 301 voters from Hamlet 2 and Hamlet 3.

The voting process began almost simultaneously at both stations, around 8 a.m. Dozens of people had already arrived at the stations even before voting started. By 10.30 a.m., 90 percent of the registered voters had cast their votes. At around 11 a.m., members of the election committee members visited those who could not come to the polling stations due to sickness or old age.

Security was tight during the election, in accordance with the instruction of the Provincial Police Chief (Kapolda) who perceive that deeper emotional attachment of the community to the candidates could create possibility of higher risks of conflict, especially in this Village Law-era. Each polling station was guarded by four police officers, a Mobile Brigade officer, an officer from Babinsa (village supervisory non-commissioned military officers), as well as an official from Public Order Agency (Satpol PP). Officials from Subdistrict office observed the entire process. Also present at the locations were Head of Government Section, Head of General Affairs-Public Orders Subdivisions, and staff of Renah Pembarap District. Renah Pembarap Subdistrict Head, Marjohan, visited both polling stations for 30 minutes each, before going to neighboring village who also held an election.

The ballot was officially closed at 1 p.m. An hour later, the counting of votes began at TPS 1. The ballot boxes from TPS 2 were sent to TPS 1 to ease the counting and recapitulation process. Hundreds of people enthusiastically witnessed the entire procedure from the beginning to the end. They crowded the polling station amid the scorching heat, shouting and cheering or laughing during the process.

The counting of votes was completed at around 3.30 p.m. The official record was signed by all witnesses and related officials. The name of the elected village head was written on the wall, and people quickly dismissed themselves. The sky has turned dark as the rain was on its way. None of the candidates were seen at the polling stations during the counting of votes.

The participation rate in the election was higher than ever at 92.63%. Zulpaini, Jembatan Rajo Village Secretary, claimed that this procentage was quite significant compared to the 2011 Pilkades, when voter turnout was only around 80%. This high participation denotes higher villagers’ enthusiasm to village governance. In addition, there were more candidates (usually only up to three persons) which prompted each campaign team to encourage people to vote. Possibly it is due to the larger amount of village funds managed by the village government nowadays.

Note: The names of village has been altered to maintain confidentiality.