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Indonesia: Over 350 poll workers, police die of fatigue

70% of deceased were over 40 years of age, says election commission

Nicky Aulia Widadio   | 29.04.2019
Indonesia: Over 350 poll workers, police die of fatigue

JAKARTA

A total of 367 Indonesian election workers and police personnel died of fatigue caused by excessive workload during and after general elections held on April 17 in the country, the election body said on Monday.

According to the General Election Commission, 70% of the deceased were over 40 years of age.

Arif Rahman Hakim, the commission’s secretary general, said 2,151 more members of the Voting Organizing Group have fallen sick, according to the data gathered up to Monday morning.

Based on a court ruling in 2014, the presidential and legislative elections were held simultaneously on the same day -- the first time in the country’s history.

That means each voter had to cast five separate ballots for president and vice president, House of Representatives, Regional Representatives Council, provincial legislative council and regional or municipal legislative council.

For this year’s elections, the election commission recruited around 7 million people to help run more than 800,000 polling stations.

Previously, Fritz Siregar, a member of the Election Supervisory Board, said the simultaneous elections have significantly increased the workload of polling workers.

"That caused a lot of fatigue, many of them fell sick and died," said Siregar.


Compensation

Widiriyani, 52, a worker who helped run a polling station in West Sumatra’s city of Bukittinggi, admitted to Anadolu Agency that this year’s workload is heavier than before.

She said seven members of the Voting Organizing Group have to count and recapitulate more than 1,000 ballots from 225 voters at the polling station where she was in charge.

According to Widiriyani, calculating legislatives votes took the longest time as they had to count votes for dozens of political parties and hundreds of candidates.

In addition, the Voting Organizing Group was also in charge of preparing reports and other administrative jobs to be submitted to the election commission.

"On the voting day, we started working at 07.00 a.m. local time [0000GMT], started counting votes at 02.00 p.m. [0700GMT], and finished at 3.30 a.m. [2000GMT]," she said.

She said each member of the Voting Organizing Group received allowance of 605,000 Indonesian rupiahs ($42.6), without insurance and were not accompanied by health workers.

Addressing this situation, the government approved election commission’s proposal to provide compensation to election officials, who experienced misfortune while preparing, performing and after completing their duties.

"This compensation applies to officials who experience misfortune from January 2019 until the end of their term of service," Evi Novida Ginting, the election commissioner, said in a statement on Monday.

The families of those who died will be given a compensation of 36 million Indonesian rupiahs ($2,534), while those who were sick, injured or disabled will be given 8.25 million to 30 million Indonesian rupiahs ($581-$2,112).

Calls for evaluation

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla called for evaluating the decision to hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections on the same day.

"Should we just let it continue so that in the next five years, hundreds will die of exhaustion after counting for a long time? It must be proportional," said Kalla.

He believed that the meaning of "simultaneously" in the election needs to be reviewed.

Rules related to elections can be possibly changed through the revision of the Act by the House of Representatives.

Executive Director of Association for Elections and Democracy Titi Anggraini criticized the 2019 election system, saying it was more like "bulk elections", rather than "simultaneous elections".

She suggested that the simultaneous elections should be divided into two parts: national and local elections.

"This system will reduce the workload of the workers," Anggraini added.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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