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Kfar Saba seniors to vote from their nursing homes
By DANIELLE ZIRI
12/13/2012
Senior citizens in assisted living faciltiies to vote in the upcoming January election without having to leave their institutions.
 
Senior citizens in nursing homes in Kfar Saba will be able to vote in the January election without having to leave the institutions, following a request by Mayor Yehuda Ben-Hamo.

Ben-Hamo sent a letter earlier this week to Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, asking him to allow elderly people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Kfar Saba to exercise their right to vote.

“We are talking about thousands of residents who want to exercise their fundamental democratic right and will not be able to if you do not make polling station accessible to them,” Ben-Hamo wrote. “It should be noted that the voting polls in senior housing can also serve all residents in the area surrounding the facility, which can allow not only residents but also other citizens who need more accessibility, to vote.”

He explained that many senior citizens in Kfar Saba had complained to his office about the issue saying that poll stations were too far from nursing homes and that the distance was difficult for them to travel.

According to the municipality, there are other people, including some who are wheelchair-bound for example, who are also physically unable to get to the regular polling locations by themselves.

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Following the mayor’s letter, which was the latest step to a long struggle for the advancement of this matter, the Central Elections Committee allowed the Kfar Saba Municipality to install stations inside the assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

“This is an unprecedented step that respects the thousands of elderly in Israel,” Ben-Hamo told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “To me it is actually fulfillment of the Bible saying ‘honor the face of the old man,’” he added.

As of now, three assisted living facilities in the city are set to have polling stations for next month’s election. Ben-Hamo believes this step will have an impact beyond his city.

“I am proud of this step and my initiative, which could be paving the way for seniors and the elderly in other cities to also be able to exercise their fundamental right as citizens of the state without complications, and I certainly hope that many of them will actually take advantage of it to the fullest,” he said.

Voting polls accessibility has been a large area of concern in Israel ahead of January 2013 as NGOs, such as Access Israel, continue to advocate for making voting possible for the disabled as well as for people with special needs.
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