Democracy can be fatal. (Antara Photo/Rahmad)

Gov't Scrambles to Find Compensation as Number of Election-Related Deaths Approach 100

APRIL 23, 2019

Jakarta. The government agency tasked with organizing elections is scrambling to find extra funds to compensate the families of polling station workers who have died on duty during last week's simultaneous presidential and legislative elections.

Arief Budiman, chairman of the General Elections Commission (KPU), said at a press conference at the agency's offices in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Monday that at least 91  have died and 374 have fallen ill while carrying out their duties.

He said the KPU held a meeting to discuss the amount of compensation that would be offered to the families of those who have died.

"We suggest compensation of between Rp 30 million and Rp 36 million [$2,100-$2,500] for the deceased," Arief said.

The KPU suggests maximum compensation of Rp 30 million for workers who have become disabled due to accidents while on duty. The amount will vary in accordance with the degree of disability.

"For injuries, we suggest a maximum of Rp 16 million," he said.

The KPU plans to meet with the Ministry of Finance to discuss details of the compensation, including procedures for providing compensation and preparing the budget.

The government had allocated Rp 25 trillion for this year's elections, but rejected the KPU's proposal to include insurance coverage for election workers.

The victims comprise police officers, polling station guards and election officials in 19 provinces.

Most of them collapsed from exhaustion after the physically draining vote-counting process. Others fell ill or died in accidents.

Many people took to social media to voice their shock and grief at the news.

"So sad to hear news like this since yesterday. It is outrageous that election officials died from exhaustion after working long hours. The KPU's failure to guarantee their health and safety should not be romanticized as a form of patriotism and nationalism," Twitter user @yellohelle wrote.

Election workers received only Rp 500,000 before tax in compensation for their work, which in many cases took more than a day to complete.

The 2019 elections also claimed the lives of election officials. Rahmat Bagja, a member of the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu), said 26 officials have died due to fatigue.

"It is sad for us that our supervisors died while they were on duty. There are 26 who died in districts, cities, subdistricts and villages," he said in Jakarta on Monday.

Bagja said Bawaslu would provide compensation to the families of officials who have died. 

"We are deeply sorry [for the losses]. God willing, there will be compensation from Bawaslu to the families," he said.