Former president Shimon Peres votes.
(photo credit: SHIMON PERES SPOKESMAN)
The presidents of Israel, regardless of their private home addresses traditionally vote at Jerusalem’s High School for the Arts. This year was an exception. President Reuven Rivlin voted at the Yefe Nof school near his private home and former President Shimon Peres, who lives in Tel Aviv, specially came to Jerusalem to vote at the School for the Arts. The reason: Each failed to notify the Interior Ministry of change of address, and each was therefore assigned to his previous polling station.
“There’s no priority,” said a Peres spokeswoman. “If you didn’t notify the Interior Ministry of a change of address 90 days before the elections, you get to vote in the same place that you voted previously.”
The essential difference with regard to Peres was that when he was president he voted in a very large classroom so that all the media representatives who came to document and record the event could be accommodated.
This time, there were fewer representatives of television, radio and print media, in addition to which Peres is no longer in office, so the assigned classroom was small and cramped.
Yael Zins, one of the voting supervisors lamented that she was wearing the wrong lipstick for a live broadcast, and was assured by a video cameraman that she would be sufficiently in the background for no-one to notice.
Peres arrived slightly ahead of schedule and entered through a side door after one of his security guards was satisfied that there was no cause for concern.
This was the fourth time that Peres was voting at the School for the Arts. In addition to two previous Knesset elections, he also voted in the last Jerusalem municipal elections.
He greeted everyone waiting, inquired how many people had voted to date and then was asked to produce his ID card. He then went behind a screen, selected his ballot slip, placed it in a blue envelope and returned to deposit it in the ballot box.
Addressing the media Peres said that there have been so many attacks against Israeli democracy, that the elections were a means of demonstrating Israel’s democratic process.
“I and most other Israelis care about Israel’s image and we care about democracy in our country,” he said. “Many people are watching the process of democracy in Israel and I call on everyone to contribute to an understanding by the world that Israelis care and that they prove this by voting.”
Although he could not predict the result of the vote, Peres emphasized that no-one on the right or the left had a monopoly on caring about the fate of the country. “I know that everyone cares,” he said, “and they prove this by placing a slip in the ballot box.”
Before leaving, Peres turned to thank the polling station team. Zins told him that she used to be his neighbor when he was president, “but I never knocked on the door to borrow a cup of sugar,” she said.
“It’s not too late,” replied Peres, implying that if a request was made, he might be prepared to once again stand for public office.
During the time that Peres was voting, a queue of some 60 voters of varying age groups lined up outside the polling station.
Many were Anglos, and quite a large number of Anglos were among the early morning voters. “It’s a great place to meet all your neighbors,” enthused ex New Yorker Judy Ziering who lives only a few meters from the polling station.