Officials at branches of Israel’ s chief Likud party reported severe technical problems at polling stations countrywide Sunday morning, halting the outset of a daylong round of voting to set a party slate for national elections on Jan. 22 for the 19th Knesset (parliament). While party Chairman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cast his ballot at party headquarters in Tel Aviv when polling stations opened at 9:00 a.m., exhorted members to head to the polls to make their voices heard, crashed internet servers kept more than 123,000 other members from voting at sites throughout the country.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, who voted Sunday morning at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center (ICC) and then left, was forced to retrace his steps to again cast his ballot, when results from the first try were not sent to the party ‘s central database via the malfunctioning touchscreen system.
Netanyahu called on members “to participate in the festival of democracy in the Likud, the largest party, the ruling party. You have the right to choose who will be in the power in the coming years in the State of Israel. I call on you to come and vote, to influence, and to decide.”
The prime minister is the only member guaranteed one of 24 slots in the coming Knesset, with the second to 12th seats going to an overall national list, with reserved spots for two women and a new immigrant candidate, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Outside the ICC, crowds of members from the greater Jerusalem areas, including settlements to the north and south, thronged tents and tables filled with candidates, flyers, posters and stickers, as rousing music blared from speakers outside.