Indonesia Considers Electronic Voting After 550 Die of Exhaustion

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia is exploring dumping paper ballots for electronic voting machines after more than 550 election workers and security officers died from exhaustion following the world’s largest one-day vote, a senior minister said.

The government will discuss the findings of an official team that studied the use of electronic voting machines in India and South Korea with the General Elections Commission and the parliament, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said in a text message on Tuesday. Any proposal to switch to voting machines will need consultation among political parties, communities and the public, he said.

More than 7 million workers were deployed as almost 245,000 candidates vied for about 20,000 posts to various legislative bodies in the April election. With the counting of the votes still in progress, 554 polling officials, security officers and volunteers died while on duty with more than 3,000 falling ill, according to the election commission. The casualties caused a public outcry, prompting the government to consider switching to electronic voting and separating the presidential and legislative elections in 2024.

The country’s first simultaneous presidential and legislative elections saw the participation of an estimated 81 percent of the 193 million eligible voters. President Joko Widodo is on course to be re-elected by a margin of about 12 percentage points, according to an official online tally of votes.

While India with a population of more than 1 billion was able to successfully use electronic voting machines, Indonesia needs to take into account its geographical features and reliability of telecommunication networks, the Kompas newspaper reported, citing Kumolo.

Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, who called this year’s poll “the most complicated,” has also backed a review of the simultaneous elections to ease the burden on officials, according to Detik.com.

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