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Israel election marred by 400 cases of voter fraud
By MELANIE LIDMAN
22/01/2013
4 criminal incidents: man arrested for forgery in Jaljuliya.
 
Police reported that by late afternoon on Tuesday they had received approximately 400 reports about irregularities or possible voter fraud that they were investigating, but the day was generally free of major issues.

At 7 a.m. on Tuesday, 9,582 polling booths opened in 1,100 different cities across the country. There were also 194 voting locations at hospitals and 57 at prisons. Central Election Committee spokesman Giora Pordes said that 100% of the voting locations across the country opened without incident.

Police reported only a few criminal incidents in regards to voting throughout the day.

In the Arab town of Jaljulya, next to Hod Hasharon, a man who was overseeing the polling at his station was arrested for forgery after eight ballots were missing from his ballot box.

In Ramat Gan, someone set a bus stop that displayed a poster for Kadima on fire. Police searched the area for the perpetrator but did not make any arrests.



Police also detained approximately a dozen haredim in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh for issues ranging from a man who walked in and suddenly overturned a ballot box, couples who attempted to vote twice, and a woman who brought her two children in to vote with her and stuffed their pockets full of voting slips.

Additionally, in the Gush Dan region, police received three separate complaints that a resident went to vote and discovered someone had already voted in their place.



Likud Beytenu claimed that polling stations in Hadera, Rishon Lezion and Beit Ezra were forgeries and warned voters to ensure their voting slips are real. The Central Election Committee also received a complaint from Bayit Vegan, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem, that one of the female election workers was not dressed modestly enough and requested that she cover up.

Eretz Hadasha, whose election slip was the letter “zayin,” also complained that their slips were removed in some of the polling booths, and in some cases replaced with slips for the Atid Aher (Different Future) party, whose slip is “zayin-heh.”

Yesh Atid also turned to the Central Election Committee, claiming someone had maliciously moved their slips in an effort to intentionally confuse votes.

Yesh Atid slips are marked with the Hebrew letters “Peh-hey” which spells “po,” which is Hebrew for “here.” The party complained that voters were getting confused because someone switched the slips for Yesh Atid with the slips for a party called Haim Bekavod [Living with Dignity], which did not pass the two percent threshold. Haim Bekavod slips are marked with the same Hebrew letters in the opposite order – “hey-peh” and Yesh Atid claimed that someone moved those slips to the spot reserved for Yesh Atid in order to confuse voters.

In response, the Central Election Committee mandated that polling directors must check the booths every half hour to ensure that no one had switched the slips for Yesh Atid and Haim Bekavod. In each voting booth, there is a specially constructed drawer with spots for the slips of each of the 32 parties running.

In Yad Binyamin, far-right party Strong Israel claimed activists from Bayit Yehudi were removing its slips from voting booths.

“We hope this is a local initiative and not policy for Bayit Yehudi,” Strong Israel said in a statement.

The Central Election Committee began collecting votes when the polls closed, at 10 p.m. in most places and 8 p.m. in towns with less than 350 residents. All votes are counted at their respective voting locations, and then rechecked to ensure that the results add up to the same number of total votes, before being uploaded to a centralized computer system.

The Central Election Committee is expected to have near final results around 4 or 5 a.m.

Ben Hartman, Lahav Harkov and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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