KPU Seeks to Boost Voter Turnout With Flashier PR Campaign

Komisi Pemilihan Umum (KPU) meluncurkan maskot Pemilu 2014, pada Oktober 10, 2013. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

Komisi Pemilihan Umum (KPU) meluncurkan maskot Pemilu 2014, pada Oktober 10, 2013. (JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

Amid concerns that voter turnout will dwindle in the 2014 elections, the General Elections Commission (KPU) has livened up its public relations campaign.

KPU commissioner Sigit Pamungkas said the election body was making efforts to cut red tape and redundant bureaucracy.

“We have totally reworked our plan for distributing information regarding the elections. We are trying not to look too formal and bureaucratic. Now, we are trying to be more entertainment-centric,” he said over the weekend.

Sigit said that at recent events the KPU had provided sporting activities, musical shows and other forms of entertainment to go along with its dissemination of information on the 2014 elections.

He said that the new style would help better spur voters to go to polling stations and cast their ballots come April 9.

“The goal is to make it easier for the public to understand [how to vote],” Sigit said.

The KPU has yet to conduct an evaluation on the success of its new public relations campaign, but a number of pollsters have recorded public satisfaction with the work of the election body.

Indo Barometer recently found in its public opinion poll that 80 percent of young respondents said that they would exercise their right to vote during the 2014 elections.

Besides the public relations campaign, Sigit said that the KPU had also made a significant change by positioning itself as a state institution that conducts political education, a function that has traditionally been assigned to political parties.

In recent months, the KPU has deployed five field workers to each district to educate the public on the political process.

“The field workers target five demographics: newly eligible voters, religious voters, female voters, disabled voters and marginal voters,” Sigit said.

He added that the KPU’s regional branches recruited the field workers from each demographic category so that they could build good rapport with their target audience.

According to Sigit, the program was inexpensive since the field workers worked with NGOs and community groups in their respective demographics.

“The activists were recruited and trained professionally before they started educating the public,” he said.

Sigit said that civics education was fundamental in bringing about changes in society.

“For example, we start by asking a simple question to women about why chili prices could be so expensive. The question is to make them realize that public policy actually has a huge influence on their daily lives,” he said.

Sigit added that throughout the program the activists would make a weekly report on their activities, such as what events they attended and how many attendees showed up.

“The reports will be submitted to the KPU’s regional branches for them to follow up the reports to us,” he said.

According to KPU chairman Husni Kamil Manik, the program was part of the commission’s strategy of communicating directly with voters instead of promoting the elections through media as the two election days draw near.

“This is to accommodate the Indonesian public’s habits. If we tell them about the election long before the balloting day, then they don’t think that it will be important to cast their votes,” he said.

Hans Nicholas Jong – The Jakarta Post

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