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IDF expecting higher than usual voter turnout
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
22/01/2013
Deputy chairman of elections headquarters for IDF says soldiers collectively make up six to seven mandates of the national total of 120.
 
The current election will see a higher than usual voter turnout among soldiers, the army forecast on Tuesday.

In past elections, some 58 percent of combat soldiers took part, but this year, the percentage should be higher, said Alon Solomon, deputy elections headquarters chairman for the IDF.

The increase can be explained by the current generation of soldiers, who “are curious youths realizing their right to vote for the first time in their lives,” and who are keen on experiencing the voting process, Solomon added.

Soldiers’ votes account for six to seven Knesset mandates.

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“That’s a significant and influential number,” he said.

In a complex logistical operation that took three months to plan, soldiers began voting on Saturday evening in 755 poll stations, some of them situated in distant, hard-to-reach army positions. There are 81 reserve voting stations that can be deployed in the field if necessary. Additionally, 150 of the stations are mobile, and are designed to serve frontline units that are on the move.

The army has approached the election as a military operation, opening a command and control room, where live updates are received on the progress of IDF voting stations.

“From the guard to the soldier on kitchen duty – everyone must be allowed to vote,” Solomon said. The voting operation extended into army prisons too, where soldiers who do not wish to vote have to sign a form waiving their rights, “to ensure beyond all doubt that those imprisoned were given the right to vote,” Solomon added.

The challenge was to enable voting across the military without interfering with vital security missions, he said.

The navy and the Border Police were among the first sectors in the IDF to cast their ballot on Sunday, while the Northern and Central Commands began voting on Monday.

All soldiers received text messages last week, and again on Tuesday, with information on where and how to vote. Voting stations are staffed with reservists, who themselves will be voting for their first time.
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