Indonesia Election: Over 270 Election Staff Died From Fatigue Caused By Counting Ballots By Hand
After Indonesia hit the polls earlier this month, over 270 election staff in the world’s third biggest democracy died from illnesses related to overwork, said an election official. According to Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesman of the General Elections Commission (KPU), mostly overwork-related illness resulted in the death of the election officials.
As of the night of April 27, 1,878 election officers were sick and another 272 of them died after helping in the administration of the biggest single-day elections in the world on April 17. The election was said to be one of the most complicated one-day polls that ever took place, with six million election workers involved in it.
The voting was quite peaceful and has been said to have drawn 80% of the total 193 million voters, reported Reuters.
For the first time, presidential and legislative elections were held by Indonesia on the same day. Across the archipelago’s 17,000 islands, about 192.8 million people were eligible to vote in over 800,000 polling stations, reported CNN.
Counting ballots by hand
For the officials, who had to count the ballot papers by hand, the task turned out to be deadly. In a country that stretches over 5,000 km (3,000 miles) from its eastern to western tips, the stress of conducting the eight-hour vote is beyond imagination.
Indonesia happens to be the fourth most populous country in the world.
Arief Budiman, General Elections Commission chief, admitted that the officers had been overworked. According to him, this happened partly because both the presidential and legislative elections were held, and also due to the pressure of delivering the election results soon.
According to Sandiaga Uno, the running mate of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, there were fundamental mistakes in the way the election had been implemented. “If the victims continue to fall, there is something fundamentally very wrong,” he said.
A circular was issued by the Health Ministry, urging health facilities to provide the ill officials with utmost care. The Finance Ministry, on the other hand, is working to compensate the families of those who lost their lives.
“The KPU is not prudent in managing the workload of staff,” said Ahmad Muzani, deputy chairman of the campaign of Prabowo Subianto, opposition presidential candidate.
Official results of the 2019 presidential election will be announced on May 22, which means officials will have to count ballots by hand for another three weeks. According to exit polls, Joko Widodo, incumbent President, is about 10 percentage points ahead of opposition leader Prabowo Subianto. Victory has been declared by both men.
The Logical Indian take
Death from overwork is not a very rare occurrence across the world. Back in 2013, an advertising copyeditor in Indonesia went into a coma and died some hours after she tweeted “30 hours of work and still going strooong.”
30 hours of working and still going strooong.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) December 14, 2013
The same year, a 21-year-old Bank of America intern in London suffered an epileptic seizure after working for 72 hours.
A 31-year-old Tokyo journalist in 2013 died of heart failure after she worked 159 hours of overtime in a span of just one month.
While work is an essential part of everyone’s life, it is important to ensure that it is only a part. One’s entire life being only about work is not just stressful for the mind but can affect their health very seriously.
While those who are making people work under them should be extremely conscious about how much work-related stress an individual can take, it is also important for the worker to refuse if they feel that the pressure is too much to handle.