The NPR News item and podcast In Indonesia, Joko Widodo Secures Another 5-Year Term As President quotes Indonesian president Joko Widodo, and continues:

"Let us reunite as family. Let us strengthen our unity," he said. He urged patience until the official results were in. But the unofficial tally, which has proven to be accurate in the past, came with head-snapping speed. The system known as quick counts doesn't rely on asking people how they voted but rather projects the winner from a sample of the actual ballots marked. And it's all over just two hours after the polls close. You might call it a model of efficiency if you weren't the challenger. Prabowo Subianto says his own tracking showed that he had won and insisted that some polls had opened late.

This seems to suggest that the unofficial tally is not completely unofficial, in the sense that it requires access to a sample of actual votes.

Sampling theory is a substantial topic unto itself, it's important to sample correctly, and to combine data and interpret it with caution and a good understanding of the errors.

Question: How does Indonesia's unofficial presidential election tally work, such that it might possibly produce reasonably informative results and yet finish with "head-snapping" speed?

update 1: As noted in comments below, Indonesia has some notable aspects that are germane here; 17,000 islands, hundreds of languages, 810,000 polling stations and 6,000,000 election workers could make fast yet accurate tallying quite the challenge.

update 2: (five years later) from NY Times's February 13, 2024 A Feared Ex-General Appears Set to Become Indonesia’s New Leader

It can take weeks for the authorities to declare official ballot counts, given the expanse of Indonesia. But results can be apparent hours after the polls close, thanks to so-called quick counts, in which independent polling companies tally ballots from a sampling of polling places nationwide.

  • 3
    I do not know about Indonesia, but in other countries they just count the first dozens of votes from each polling station and use them to predict the final results while to recounting is still ongoing.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 8:16
  • @SJuan76 so a station that receives 100 votes and one that receives 10,000 votes are treated statistically equally? Can you cite a source for this? I'd like to read further. Thanks!
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 8:17
  • 3
    I do not know if the participation data is taken into account, but you usually can have an approximate number of how many people have voted as soon as the stations close (just write down a stick anytime some puts a vote in the ballot box).
    – SJuan76
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 9:04
  • 1
    over one month later, ABC news: Post-election riots in Jakarta leave 6 dead, hundreds injured interesting factoid: "Indonesia has a huge social media presence. Around 92% of the population actively uses Facebook, and 2% of all global public tweets are sent from Jakarta, making it Twitter’s No. 1 posting city in June 2012, according to research by Semiocast."
    – uhoh
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 4:54
  • 1
    2 hours after the polls close would be very slow in France for the presidential election. TVs announce the winner at the minute polls close, and they don't do it before since it is forbidden by law in France. You can have the result (precise to the second decimal place) about one hour before by looking at Belgian newspapers online.
    – Taladris
    Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 10:29

1 Answer 1


Quick count methdology, also known as (Parallel Vote Tabulation or PVT) is not unique to Indonesia. The US-based National Democratic Institute has extensive information on their website regarding how this is done. They have assisted civic organizations with this practice in over 50 countries since 1988. Here's a helpful infographic on the general idea, part of a one-page guide.

"Here's how they work" infographic

According to articles on on New Mandala from 2014 and on New Straits Times from 2019, pollsters conducted such quick count surveys at around 2,000 of Indonesia's 500,000 polling stations in both of those elections. The pollsters observe the votes and tally them on so-called "C1 forms" which are made public. I've not been able to find any details so far on exactly how these tallies are reported for centralized tabulation, but a mobile app was probably used.

a C! form

The link for to view the C1 forms for 2019 appears to no longer work, but the official report of the CSIS-CN quick count for 2019 (in Indonesian) is still online (also archived).

  • +1 thank you for your speedy answer! Based on only "2,000 of Indonesia's 500,000 polling stations" it seems that some thought has gone into how to decide which ones would be most representative. Was there any information on how from 17,000 islands, hundreds of languages and 500,000 (or 810,000) these 2,000 stations are selected?
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 23:45
  • 1
    The report (embedded PDF in the last link in my answer) describes the multistage random sampling used and gives a summary table about where the selected sites were.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 20:21
  • Nice! Yes, I see there's nothing there really suitable for google-translating and block quoting here, but luckily it turns out there's already archived versions so I've added a link to help make your answer more timeless and valuable for future readers.
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 20:56
  • I added an "update 2" to the question, citing a NY Times report suggesting that this "PVT" activity is performed by private companies. I have seen similar language used by CNN today as well.
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 14 at 14:21

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