JAKARTA (Reuters) – Ten days after Indonesia held the largest one-day election in the world, more than 270 electoral workers died, mostly from fatigue-related illnesses caused by hours of work, officials said Sunday.
FILE PHOTO – A worker arranges floral wreaths and congratulatory cards from people after the elections this week outside the headquarters of the General Election Commission (KPU) in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 21, 2019. REUTERS / Willy Kurniawan
April For the first time, the country with 260 million inhabitants combined the presidential election with national and regional parliamentary votes to cut costs.
The voting was largely peaceful and an estimated 80 percent of the total of 193 million voters counted, each had to beat in more than 800,000 polling stations up to five ballot papers.
But the eight-hour vote in a country spanning more than 5,000 kilometers from the western to eastern peaks turned out to be logistical Herculean achievement, and was deadly to officials as they had to count the ballots by hand.
By Saturday night, 272 electoral officials had died, mainly due to illnesses caused by overwork, while in 1878 others became ill, said Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesman for the General Elections Commission (KPU).
The Ministry of Health issued a newsletter on April 23 urging healthcare facilities to pay the highest attention to sick campaign workers, while the Ministry of Finance is working to compensate the families of the deceased, Susanto added.
The KPU has come under fire because of the rising death toll.
"The KPU is not careful in dealing with the workload of its staff," said Ahmad Muzani, vice-chairman of the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, which the news website Kumparan.com reports.
Prabowo, claimed by independent pollsters, the loser of the 2019 polls was based on quick counts, allegedly alleged widespread fraud, and his campaign alleged that some officials had elected ballots for incumbent President Joko Widodo. Widodo's security minister said the allegations were groundless.
Both candidates have declared victory, although Widodo won the election by 9-10 percentage points after quick results.
The KPU will finalize the vote count on 22 May and announce the winners of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Cut by Michael Perry