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Can learn a lot from Indian experience on electronic voting machines: Indonesian envoy

Indonesian envoy to India Sidharto Suryodipuro. Photograph:( WION )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Apr 17, 2019, 05.45 PM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Indonesians voted on Wednesday in a one-day election billed as one of the most complex in the world. Our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal spoke to Indonesian envoy to India Sidharto Suryodipuro on the Indonesian elections, the Indian polls among other things. The envoy said, his country can learn from the Indian experience on the electronic voting machine (EVM) and lauded the democratic process in both the countries. 

WION: What can Indians learn from the Indonesian election process and what can Indonesians learn from the Indian elections?

Sidharto Suryodipuro: Learning, it's a two-way street. We need to have a conversation between our election commissions. It will be a good idea to start that. From the Indonesian side, we can learn a lot from our Indian friends about the EVM because behind India's voting machine there is a long history. It's a long process of gaining political consensus for the adoption of the EVMs and the process has not ended. Now you have paper trail added. Indonesia can benefit from the Indian experience on this.

WION: What are the similarities between the Indian and the Indonesian elections?

Suryodipuro: Similarities are in terms of diversity and scale of both the countries. India has a larger population than Indonesia. Indonesia had 810,000 polling booths. My guess is, in every round of elections in India there will be about as many numbers of polling booths. Both have very diverse and complex processes. It shows both our democracies are robust, people have the confidence in democracy and voting process and another thing - our election cycle is the same (previously in 2014 and now), and this helps in strengthening the bilateral relations because it creates stability in relations for the next 5 years.

WION: How big is the process of elections in Indonesia?

Suryodipuro: On April 17, a total of 193 million Indonesians went to the polling booth. They are electing the President and the Vice president. They will be voting for 575 members of the lower house. This is out of candidates of 16 political parties. There will be local voting at the provincial level. So in all, 20,000 seats will be up for votes.

WION: How did Indonesians in India vote?

Suryodipuro: There are 2 million Indonesians living overseas. They are covered by 133 Indonesian missions worldwide. So in India, we have votings in the embassy in New Delhi and the Consulate in Mumbai. In all, we have 198 Indonesian citizens come to the embassy and vote and 91 that voted by mail. We are going through the counting. These are ballot papers and not electronic voting machines, they are being counted manually.