So I read this CNN article titled bluntly, “More than 300 workers dead after Indonesian election” and am finding the sheer numbers of workers dead—or have fallen ill—due to being overworked a bit hard to believe.

“As of Monday, 311 election officials have died and another 2,232 people have fallen sick after helping to administer the election, according to figures from the National Elections Commission (KPU).”

I find it hard to say I doubt these deaths occurred, but deaths purely based on bureaucratic fatigue from administering an election? Even if it was a massive election? Seems odd to me.

I feel like there is something off kilter about this based on my Western perspective. Are there other sources that can validly backup these claims with perhaps details on the number of election workers and perhaps some demographic age data to back this up?

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    Yep, sounds odd to me. Would be good to know the total number of people involved, for how long, and roughly the ages, etc, so the numbers could be compared to "normal" mortality figures. Would also be good to know how the above figures were derived. Apr 29, 2019 at 23:41

1 Answer 1


This is actually a matter of statistics. Counting the ballots in the election has required more than 7 million poll workers spread across 810,000 poll stations in a very wide variety of regions -- for example, some ballot boxes had to be transported up mountaintops by horse.

Of those 7 million workers, 2,000 (0.03%) have become ill during the past two weeks of counting, and of those 2,000, 300 have died. The count will not be completed until mid-May.

This is a morality rate of 4.3 per 100,000 persons over the course of 2 weeks, which I calculate as 111 per 100,000 person-years. Using that calculation to compare to this study of mortality rates by career in Britain, I see that it is lower than the lowest recorded rate, cultural and media professionals, which suffer 133 deaths per 100,000 person-years.

The large number of election workers is a function of the size of the election: This was the first ever attempt by Indonesia to have national and local elections on the same day. Usually, only one election is counted at a time, which is more easily managed by neighborhood committees. In this Guardian article you can see a photo that shows the exhaustion of poll workers.

The caption reads: “Workers lie down during a break as they prepared election materials in a warehouse in Jakarta on 15 April.”

  • Excellent stuff! Great breakdown of the numbers as well. Apr 30, 2019 at 13:33

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