General Elections were held across Indonesia last month where for the first time in the country’s history the President, the Vice President, all members of the People’s Consultative Assembly and local legislative bodies were elected on the same day. There were 193 million eligible voters in Indonesia voting at 800,000 polling stations for over 245,000 candidates running for 20,000 open seats.

Confused? You’re not alone. The Lowy Institute stated before the elections took place that this is “one of the most complicated single-day elections in global history.” 7,385,500 election officials worked the election, 5,672,303 of them were civilian workers and 569 of them died due to what Indonesian officials are calling accidents resulting in deaths ranging from exhaustion, heart failure, heat stroke, and brain infections to name a few. 22 police officers, 91 supervisory agents, and 456 civilians working as election officers succumbed to illness and died leading up to and after the elections that were held last month on April 17th.

Indonesia is one of the largest direct democracies in the world and although experts observing the election understood that this was a monumental task none of them predicted that nearly 569 people would die.  There were 800,000 polling stations spread across a mountainous region with very rough terrain. Most election workers walked, used mules or canoes to reach certain locations nearly 2,000 were injured or fell ill. Election workers who worked indoors counting ballots faced intense heat and endless workloads some even working for 48 hours straight.

According to Indonesian law, each ballot has a nail-hole punched in it by the voter and the voter has their finger dipped in ink to prevent double voting, this ballot when being counted has to be held up so witnesses can clearly see sunlight through the nail-hole punched by the voter. Imagine doing this in a packed, humidity soaked room for countless hours just to earn a living for your family. The government of Indonesia has statedthat each family who lost a loved one will be given about $2,500. Imagine your loved one was worked like a slave, and the government that worked them to death offered you 2,500 dollars to say sorry. It’s disgusting.

No human being should ever be worked to death. We live in what people like to call a civilized world, but what is civilized about this? What is humane about allowing this to happen with zero consequences? Our elected officials are too busy chasing imaginary terrorist to solve real global issues like slave labor, human trafficking or any other issue that affects us mere civilians, elected officials only care about their own pockets and issues that affect their pockets.

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights has started a probe into the deaths of 569 poll-workers and officials. Djazuli Ambari, chairman of the Indonesian Red Crescent Society called for medical examinations of those killed. Djazuli Ambari told Indonesian news outlet BenarNews in a statement: “Medical and forensic audits can contain chronological reports on clinical care of the patients. Complete information obtained from the audit can be a basis for consideration in making regulations for next elections.”

Some Indonesian lawmakers have suggested having the presidential election on a separate date instead of the People’s Consultative Assembly, local offices and the nations presidential election all being on the same day. This change would lighten the load on poll-workers, but regulations are not reliable, to say the least, they are often violated or ignored. International observers from the United Nations must be dispatched Indonesia’s next election to ensure that the human rights of election workers are not being violated. Most of the victims were poor and the Indonesian government took advantage of their financial insecurities in grotesque fashion.

In three days the winner of Indonesia’s Presidential election will be announced and celebrations will be held, but the ripple effects of losing 569 people in such a short time is a tragedy that will be everlasting for the families of the victims. An independent international investigation needs to be opened by a governing body outside of Indonesia to hold those responsible accountable. We cannot allow the Indonesian government to investigate themselves because they are directly implicated in all 569 deaths.


Written by Joziah Thayer – You can read more of my articles at – You can Follow me on Twitter @ Dapeaple

Special Thank you to Yasir for bringing this to my attention. 🙂

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