Indonesia votes: Ghosts and vampires draw voters to ballot box

Indonesia votes: Ghosts and vampires draw voters to ballot box
A horror-themed polling station in South Jakarta.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

JAKARTA - Ghosts and vampires greeted voters at a South Jakarta polling station on Wednesday (April 17), as Indonesian election officials pounced on creative ways to draw crowds to the ballot box.

And like any fancy dresser fully committed to playing the part, each of these officials at the Jalan Gunung Balong station had a story on how they "died".

"I got run over by a bus," logistics worker Mohammad Dasir, 42, told The Straits Times as he guided arriving voters shrouded in a kafan, a white sheet typically used to wrap bodies in Muslim burials.

His neighbour Andi Alfaqi, 20, claimed he died after someone hit his head with a shovel while he was asleep. He accessorised his vampire outfit with a shovel to back up his story.

A horror-themed polling station in South Jakarta.Photo: The Straits Times

The university student was helping voters dip their finger into a semi-permanent ink bottle, a method used in Indonesia to prevent double voting.

Officials at other polling stations also dressed up, lending a festive feel to the election.

In Surabaya, East Java they wore superhero costumes with Spiderman and Thor putting in an appearance. Meanwhile cowboy outfits, complete with sheriff badges, and Chinese traditional attire were spotted at polling stations in Cibadak, Bandung.

Indonesian election workers dressed in superhero costumes register voters at a polling station in Surabaya on April 17, 2019.Photo: AFP

The horror-themed polling station in Gunung Balong attracted a higher-than-average turnout, say officials.

Head of the Gunung Balong polling station committee Adnan Yasin, 37, told reporters that more residents did show up to vote, compared to the last election in 2014.

"I would say our turnout this time around reached 80 per cent, from around 65 per cent five years ago," he told reporters after polls closed at 1pm.

Mr Adnan, himself dressed as a vampire, said the volunteer officials manning the station spent their own money on their costumes.

Funds for the decorations - including gravestones and a fortune teller booth - came from the tent hire cost allocated by the general election commission (KPU). Instead of hiring a tent, the officials utilised a pavillion at a resident's house, free of charge.

Voters arriving at the polling station had to step between two graves, both etched with a birth date of April 17, 2019, and a death date of April 17, 2024, signifying the five-year term for candidates in today's election.

"We wanted to introduce funny and scary elements to our polling station. This would spark curiosity, and make people come. It worked well," Mr Adnan said.

When asked by The Straits Times how he died, Mr Adnan said: "I was bitten by an older dracula."

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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