The Knesset Interior Committee unanimously passed a bill on Monday that will allow prisoners to vote in municipal elections while incarcerated. The bill, initiated by MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), is similar in its essence to the amendment bill that passed in 1986, which gave prisoners the right to vote in the general – but not municipal – election. The bill now needs to be approved by the Knesset in its first reading. The MKs explained that each citizen holds more weight in municipal elections than they do in national elections, and that the outcome has major implications on their day to day life.
Articles about voting issues in the State of Israel.
Unlike the United States, which grants all its citizens the right to vote anywhere and under all circumstances, most other countries set certain limitations on the rights of their citizens to vote from abroad. Israeli law grants the ability to exercise this important democratic right only to members of its diplomatic corps and to employees of the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Federation, the Jewish National Fund and the United Israel Appeal. Still, while law enables murderers and other convicted felons serving jail terms to take part in the democratic process, the same law revokes the voting rights of students, university professors, employees of private firms, tourists and other Israelis away from their permanent places of residence on election day.
In confirmation of the Yachad – Ha’am Itanu and Otzma Yehudit accusations that Shas activists committed mass voter fraud in invalidating the two parties’ joint list ballot slips, recordings reveal Shas activists instructing how to invalidate the slips. IDF Radio on Monday morning published recordings of a Shas activist from Jerusalem guiding his friends on how to harm Yachad on elections day – Yachad wound up less than 11,000 votes short of getting past the recently raised threshold percentage. “Everyone who goes to vote – let them remove the slips of ‘ketz,’ let them put them in their pocket and put in its place Shas,” the supporter can be heard saying in the recording, referring to the letters on the slip representing Yachad.
Multiple incidents of voter fraud were reported during elections day last week – including several arrests in Arab communities. Arutz Sheva spoke to Yisrael Zelkovitz, a volunteer who served as a member of a volunteer task force funded by the Samaria Residents’ Committee at polling stations tasked with uncovering and preventing voter fraud, to find out more about what really happened on elections day. The project was funded with Likud, Jewish Home, and Yisrael Beytenu support. Zelkovitz stated that he did see incidents of voter fraud, and even caught some suspicious activity on tape – including buying votes and extortion.
Mousa Abu Maria’s vote will be counted in today’s Israeli elections — but he won’t step foot in a polling station. Instead, the 36-year-old Palestinian activist has asked an Israeli to cast a ballot for the party he thinks will fight for Palestinian rights: the Joint List, the preferred choice among many Palestinian citizens of the state. “Palestine is still under Israeli occupation; that should mean I have the right to vote. I don’t have my own country and Israel still controls everything. Israel has control of our life,” Abu Maria, who lives in the West Bank town of Beit Ommar and does not hold Israeli citizenship, told the Star. Ofer Neiman, an Israeli freelance translator who lives in Jerusalem, is casting his ballot for Abu Maria. He said he chose to give his vote in protest of what he views as undemocratic elections.
Israel’s election commission chief on Tuesday barred Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from broadcasting new appeals to his followers for their support as Israelis cast ballots in a surprisingly close election that threatens to unseat the prime minister. The commission ruled that a broadcast appeal – Netanyahu had planned two television interviews – would violate the country’s ban on political ads on election day. The rejection came as officials reported that turnout by 4 p.m., at 45.4 percent, was lagging slightly behind the rate of the election in 2013. Polls remain open until 10 p.m. In a last-minute video appeal to supporters on his Facebook page, Netanyahu warned that “the rule of the right is in danger” and that “Arab voters are going in droves to the polls” in buses provided by leftist groups. “Go to the polls, bring your friends and family, vote Likud to close the gap,” he said.
Polling stations only close at 10:00 pm, but several parties have already filed complaints to the Central Elections Committee (CEC) over allegations of fraud Tuesday – just halfway through election day. Yisrael Beytenu has filed a complaint, representatives stated to the press, after a number of party representatives were allegedly attacked during the voting process. In one incident, the chairman of Yisrael Beytenu’s Nazareth chapter was attacked at the polling station; local police rushed to the scene to break up the fight. In Arab-majority Baka Al Gharbia, Kafr Kara, and Sakhnin, party representatives were prevented from voting by the crowd.
A trickle of Israelis living abroad has begun arriving in Israel in the days prior to Tuesday’s election, in order to cast ballots for the next Knesset. Unlike the United States, which allows its expatriate community abroad to vote in local, state and national elections, Israelis residing outside of the Jewish state are legally barred from exercising their sovereign franchise. Martin Berger of Brighton, England, is one of them. A sales manager for a media company, he first came to Israel in 1988 as part of a crew filming a movie about the 40th anniversary of Israel’s founding. While he never resided here full time, he obtained citizenship and visits Israel on a regular basis, sometimes as often as once every two weeks.
As an Arab living in Israel, Ayman Odeh never had the brightest of political futures. His fellow Arab politicians, divided among four parties with radically different ideologies, have always squabbled too much to be counted as a real force. But now Mr Odeh could be on the verge of a major breakthrough, as the top candidate on a united list for all the Arab parties for next Tuesday’s general election. The list, which could give Israel’s Arab population unprecedented political clout, was born of necessity after Right-wingers in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, raised the threshold for representation from two to 3.25 per cent, thus threatening small Arab parties with electoral oblivion.
Israel is getting ready for the big day: On March 17th, citizen residents in Israel will vote for the 20th Knesset since the country’s founding. Then, the politicians we see every night on TV will go head to head for 120 Knesset seats. … Each citizen has one vote. Unlike other democracies, this vote is not given to a candidate, but to a list. And this list is either a political party or a union of parties, such as for example the Zionist camp that unified Zipi Livni’s HaTnua and Avoda, the Labour Party. … Anyone with Israeli citizenship and over the age of 18 is eligible to vote: So that’s Arabs, Druze, Christians and Jews alike. People in prison or who currently do their army service are also eligible to vote. However, this does exclude most of the inhabitants of East Jerusalem who only have a permanent residency and not an Israeli ID. This is due to the difficult status of East Jerusalem. Israeli citizens can’t vote from abroad. You just have to ensure you’re in Israel on election day. That is, apart from diplomats and Israeli embassy staff based abroad. These people vote at the earlier date of March 5th to ensure their votes arrive in Israel to be counted on election day. It is debatable, but many parties and politicians think that you need to live in Israel to influence its future because it is much too easy to sit thousands of miles away and make a decision that probably won’t influence your life.