1 out of 8 voters is abroad

Only those able and willing to pay to fly back to Israel are permitted to participate in the elections.

February 9, 2009 23:48
1 minute read.
Voting ballots

elections voting cards 248.88 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

Almost one out of every eight eligible voters - according to the voter rolls - will be left without a vote Tuesday due to a law prohibiting the approximately 650,000 Israelis living abroad from voting. Only those able and willing to pay to fly back to Israel are permitted to participate in the elections, as Israel remains one of the few Western countries that does not permit absentee ballots from being filed by overseas residents. Likud MK Reuven Rivlin said the only reason that the law remained on the books was due to political considerations on the part of parties who believe that they have something to lose by enfranchising the overseas residents. In 1996, Rivlin proposed a law to extend voting rights to Israelis living overseas. Although it passed its preliminary reading, a change in what Rivlin described as "demographic pressure" removed some of the urgency in passing the legislation. Rivlin said that at the time, "it was clear to everybody that allowing votes overseas would benefit Likud. Its no secret that the majority of Israelis in Los Angeles would vote for Likud." As a result, he said, left-wing parties refused to support the legislation. "It's absurd to claim that someone like Chaim Topol, in London doing Fiddler on the Roof, is contributing less of a valuable service to the State of Israel then someone who lives here. Or high-tech workers who are in Silicone Valley for a year or two, or researchers who are working overseas and will bring back their knowledge to Israel. Why shouldn't they be allowed to vote too?"

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