|Photo by: Yonah Jeremy Bob|
Israel election marred by 400 cases of voter fraud
By MELANIE LIDMAN
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.
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.
reported only a few criminal incidents in regards to voting throughout the
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.
the Gush Dan region, police received three separate complaints that a resident
went to vote and discovered someone had already voted in their
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
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
“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.