The Indonesian Institute, Center for Public Policy Research (TII), with the support from USAID’s Regional Support for Elections and Political Transitions (RESPECT) Program and Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi (Perludem), conducted qualitative research from February-June 2021 on enabling civic tech ecosystems and open election data readiness to improve the integrity of elections in Indonesia. The study analyses two things. First, the essential elements that need to be addressed to enable civic tech ecosystems in Indonesia to improve the integrity of elections. Second, the critical election datasets available in Indonesia and strategy promote open election data supporting civic tech and elections transparency and accountability. This research report aims to provide actionable, contextual, and inclusive recommendations for the development of election programming in Indonesia, including future support in developing the civic tech ecosystem to improve the integrity and the inclusivity of elections in Indonesia with the help of open election data readiness.
There are eight critical elements in mapping and developing a successful election civic tech program. Those eight key elements are: leadership and political commitment; policy or legal framework; institutional structures, responsibilities, and capabilities; data availability, management policies, and procedures; demand for open data; civic engagement and capabilities; budget support; and national technology and skills infrastructure (World Bank, 2015).
To assess data availability and openness, this research defines key election data and assesses whether Indonesia complies with open data standards regarding these critical election data. A comprehensive definition of data sets that can be considered for publication as open election data has been established by the Open Election Data Initiative. The Open Election Data Initiative’s definition includes tabular and spatial data, as well as textual data. With this definition, open-data principles can be applied in all phases of the electoral cycle.
Based on research findings, it can be concluded that the civic tech ecosystem and open election data in Indonesia are moderately good with an existing vibrant civil society and civic tech and the commitment of the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to provide open election data. Three elements of the ecosystem—leadership and political commitment; civic engagement and capabilities; and budget support—show favourable conditions exist for the successful and sustainable implementation of civic tech and open election data initiatives meeting the objectives set. Meanwhile, the policy and legal framework; institutional structures, responsibilities, and capabilities within government; and data availability, management policies and procedures do not show significant obstacles, but the evidence of favourable conditions is mixed. Current conditions relating to national technology and skills infrastructure suggest tremendous barriers to successful and sustainable implementation of civic tech and open election data initiatives.
Regarding open election data readiness, the election data in various categories are available for free on the internet, even though they are not easy to discover and locate. In general, most election data in Indonesia are open, as observed through the Indonesia Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum/KPU) website. Seven types of data are considered open: those relating to legal frameworks; election management body and administration; election management body processes; electoral boundaries; ballot qualification; election campaigns; and voter education. In addition, six types of data are considered partially open: political party registration; campaign finance; voter registration; voter lists; polling stations; and electoral complaints and disputes. Two election data deemed not open are election security and election results.
The research highlights several crucial issues to improve the civic tech ecosystem and open election data readiness in Indonesia. In the normative aspects, this research underlines the importance of having clear regulations on the provision of open election data and synergy as well as collaboration among various stakeholders. Internal rules regarding open data in KPU are also essential to enable KPU to prepare its institutional and human resources capability to have better practice open election data. Support from the government, the parliament, and the public are also crucial in promoting the civic tech ecosystem and open election data readiness in Indonesia. On the practical elements, to unleash the potential of data, these data need to meet certain technical features. Election data need to comply with open data principles to enable the data to be reused and analysed. There are requirements to have the data format be machine-readable and accessible (available in one bulk, timely, easy to find); have sufficient storage capacity within its domain to manage existing data from various periods of election; make sure the data is inclusive and available in an accessible format and easy-to-find sections, and engage other entities to support the KPU in maintaining its efforts regarding open election data and collaborating with non-state actors in improving the integrity of elections in Indonesia.
In conclusion, this research suggests considering the intertwining of those normative and practical aspects in future election programming. Support such as providing technical support, legal advice, facilitating the KPU with various stakeholders and promoting human rights and inclusion mainstreaming is essential and valuable to promote the civic tech ecosystem and open election data readiness to improve the integrity of elections in Indonesia. Additional partners at the national and local levels who work on similar issues regarding elections, democracy, civic/public participation, civic tech and open data, in particular, should also be engaged in promoting this matter.