The Jerusalem municipality plans to open only six polling stations in the predominantly Arab eastern part of the city for October’s mayoral election, sparking charges that officials are trying to keep Arab residents from voting — as the eastern sector of the city has some 360,000 residents. Jewish neighborhoods, which represent most of the city’s voters, will have more than 180 stations, Haaretz reported Thursday. Each polling station in a Jewish neighborhood will serve approximately 2,000 voters, as opposed to the 40,000 voters expected to use each polling station in Arab neighborhoods. Three polling stations will be opened in the mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood of Beit Safafa, which means that the final three stations for Arab voters, located in the Old City, Sheikh Jarrah and Jabal Mukkaber, will each serve some 80,000 residents.
The remaining Arab neighborhoods are not expected to have any provisions for residents to vote in October, and according to Haaretz, some voters will need to travel at least 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to cast their ballots.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War and considers it part of its undivided capital, but the Arab residents there have boycotted local elections so as not to grant any legitimacy to Israel’s presence. According to Haaretz, approximately 1 percent of eligible Arab voters cast their ballots in the 2013 Jerusalem mayoral race.