Just seven days before Indonesia’s regional elections, the elections commission announced all COVID-19 patients in isolation would have the right to vote according to a new electoral law drafted during the pandemic.
It also released a cartoon that stated two election officials and two witnesses wearing personal protective equipment would enter each COVID-19 isolation room to oversee the process.
However, on Wednesday, the commission appeared to backtrack after pressure from local hospitals and medical staff.
“Meeting COVID-19 patients is not something that can be done randomly. So a doctor or medical staff can record the votes as long as they have the correct paperwork. So it is no longer random,” he added.
Several election workers Al Jazeera spoke to said they were pleased with the new policy and had been “frightened” at the prospect of having to enter COVID-19 isolation wards.
Indonesia has been criticised for going ahead with the regional elections across the country, in which more than 100 million people were eligible to vote. The regional elections on Wednesday were designed to elect governors, mayors, regents and district heads across almost 300,000 polling stations spanning 37 cities.