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Indonesia lures voters with superheroes and endangered animals

SURABAYA, INDONESIA Dressed like Count Dracula, Mr Yasim Adnan does not look much like an election official, but neither do his staff who are decked out as mummies and nuns with blood pouring from their eyes.

The 37-year-old presided over one of the creepiest ballot stations in Indonesiayesterday as it held a giant election that featured some 190 million voters and 245,000 candidates vying for public office, including a new president.

To bolster turnout at some 800,000 polling booths nationwide, election officials pulled out all the stops, from dressing like superheroes to enlisting the help of elephants in Sumatra.

In Tangerang, outside the capital Jakarta, voters cast their ballots at Mr Adnan's horror-themed polling station, which was outfitted with cardboard coffins and blood-stained rags that hung from the ceiling.

Staff were allowed any costume they chose, as long as it did not appear to favour either president Joko Widodo or his re-election rival Prabowo Subianto.

"We are trying to attract people so there will be less golput," Mr Adnan told AFP, using the Indonesian term for citizens who do not vote.

It seemed to work.

'AMAZING'

"This is amazing - the theme is so different from other stations," said 42-year-old Komariah Usia.

There was also a photo booth on hand for successful ballot casters - whose fingers were dipped in indelible ink to prevent double voting - keen to snap a picture of themselves as proof of their civic duty.

Some restaurants and other retailers were offering free food and drink to those who held up their ink-stained finger.

In Surabaya, asuperhero-themed polling station was a hit. Election officials there helped disabled voters cast a ballot and pressing fingers into the Muslim-approved halal ink jars.

"We made it look this way to motivate millennials, especially first-time voters," said polling station chief Andilio, who goes by one name.

But he also hoped that staff would take the costumes to heart by serving "voters just like how these characters would".

"Safeguard democracy and the election so it will be smooth, safe and peaceful," he added.

Officials in Sumatra enlisted the help of three critically endangered Sumatran elephants.

They were used to transport cardboard ballot boxes to polling stations in Central Trumon subdistrict - much to the entertainment of citizens.

- REUTERS

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