Hundreds Of Workers Die From Overwork Following World’s Biggest Single-Day Elections

Hundreds of election workers have died of overwork and almost 2,000 have fallen ill following the world’s biggest single-day elections, held in Indonesia earlier this month.

Indonesian officials said over the weekend that at least 272 election officers had died since the April 17 vote, mostly from fatigue-related illnesses caused by the long hours they clocked counting millions of ballot papers by hand, Reuters reported.

Arief Priyo Susanto, a spokesman for the country’s election commission (KPU), said Sunday that 1,878 election workers had fallen sick for similar reasons. Susanto said the government had urged health facilities to provide the best possible care to sickened election staff and had promised to adequately compensate the families of the deceased.

Electoral workers count ballots during the election at a polling station in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 17, 2019.

Electoral workers count ballots during the election at a polling station in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 17, 2019.

Indonesia’s elections were one of the most complicated single-day votes ever undertaken. 

For the first time in its history, the country chose ― for cost-cutting reasons ― to hold its presidential, parliamentary and local elections on the same day.

About 245,000 candidates competed for more than 20,000 positions and an estimated 150 million Indonesians — or about 80 percent of the country’s eligible voters — flocked to more than 800,000 polling stations across the sprawling archipelago to cast their ballots.

More than 6 million election workers were involved in counting ballots and monitoring the election. BBC said workers were “expected to work through the night in sweltering conditions,” causing many to fall sick with fatigue. 

Critics have accused the KPU for creating unsustainable working conditions for election staff.

A spokesman for opposition presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who ran against incumbent Joko Widodo, said the election commission was “not prudent in managing the workload” of its staff.

Widodo and Subianto both declared victory following the vote. Initial counts, however, suggest Widodo will emerge as the victor. The final count is slated to be announced May 22.

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