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Indonesian Elections Cause Casualties

Savvas Varitimos, Editor

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In recent news around the world, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Indonesia, making for one of the largest voting turnouts in global history. It was reported that roughly 80% of the nation’s eligible voters made it to their local ballots, out of the approximated 193 million voters in the country. Though this stands as a precedent for the nation’s history, the result of such event led to an unfortunate aftermath. As a result of this election process, media outlets have issued more than 300 workers deceased due to “fatigue-related illnesses”. These illnesses have been blamed on the immense workload assigned to officials: setting up makeshift tents, handing out election invitations, among carrying out other logistics to make election day possible.  

Questions which were asked following this incident have already been answered for the most part. Though, it still rings true that many citizens in Indonesia find the widespread deaths to be mysterious. The Indonesian government is still pulling together the story on what happened even a month after the tragedy. Patterns of death-related causes have been shown time and again throughout autopsy reports, including, but not limited to, suffering heart attacks or extreme exhaustion. Granted that these diagnoses may be true for some of the fallen workers, individuals are still determined to question the validity behind the statements made. One woman who suffered the loss of her father, notes how she suspects the government is trying to cover up their negligence of the workers. In an interview, she suggests that her father had not died from any heart attack, but rather the plain abuse which the workers were subject to. Another proposal by the National Elections Commission suggests how the workers were “dedicated and devoted” at the cost of their own health, taking the agency right out of the government’s hands.

With further investigation underway, it is important to highlight some other news which made this event so monumental. To recap, Indonesia is a nation found on an archipelago, or a series of islands nearly reaching 17,000. Across these islands, there was a distribution of six million election workers for about 800,000 voting stations. Troubles with executing an election this expansive certainly brought on pressure, both physical and mental, to the minds of the working members. However, the fact that this election period was registered for a select eight-hour period during one day also condoned for a stressful environment. A part of the reason for managing their time with hard deadlines allows for votes to be counted accurately, rest assured that no voter fraud could take place. Interestingly, this was also the first time in which Indonesia had combined presidential, national, and regional parliamentary ballots, assuming that doing so would be a more cost-efficient move.

Albeit that the lives of these workers were lost, Indonesia had stepped up to address future concerns for workers. New laws have been enacted since April 17— marking their voting day. One can now be, at least, the age of 17 to volunteer as an election worker, revising the previous law which required those to be of the age of 25. Similarly, there has been a maximum number of voters decided on for each voting center, in attempt to evade another instance of worker burnout. Each family who agonized over the loss of loved ones will get in return 36 million rupiah, or the equivalent of one year’s salary based off minimum wage. The state of the country as it stands now is still out-of-hand. Joko Widodo, one presidential candidate who holds a 10% lead against Prabowo Subianto, an opposing candidate, has been allegedly accused of voter fraud. This, in spite of the work put into the election by workers— dead and alive, has aggravated many. News of a final tally has not yet been gathered, but shall be released to the public on May 22.

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Indonesian Elections Cause Casualties