Nina A. Loasana, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has urged people voting in the simultaneous regional elections to adhere to health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during polling.
"While Indonesia is experienced at conducting large democratic events such as general elections and simultaneous regional elections, in these regional elections, we face new challenges as they are being conducted amid a pandemic," Jokowi wrote on his official Instagram account on Wednesday.
He said that in addition to ensuring that the elections were conducted in a democratic manner, the public should also make sure that they followed the health protocols, such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.
"We need to comply with the health protocols for our own safety and security," Jokowi wrote in the caption. "Happy voting. Don't forget to wear masks, maintain physical distance and wash your hands frequently."
More than 100 million voters are expected to cast their ballots in the simultaneous regional elections on Wednesday, which are being conducted in 270 regions across the archipelago.
Voters will elect nine governors, 224 regents and 37 mayors.
Despite criticism over the potential for COVID-19 transmission, the government has pressed on with the regional elections as scheduled.
The General Election Commission (KPU) has set up strict health protocols for polling station officers, voters and candidates to minimize the risk of virus transmission.
However, despite the strict regulations, numerous candidates have been reported for violations of health protocols while campaigning.
From Sept. 26 to Nov. 24, the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) recorded 2,126 health protocol violations, including noncompliance with physical distancing, mask-wearing and maximum attendance rules.
Jokowi's son, Gibran Rakabuming, is running for mayor of Surakarta, Central Java, and the President's son-in-law, Bobby Nasution, is running for mayor of Medan, North Sumatra.