With ballot boxes opening across Israel for municipal elections on Tuesday, one group of petitioners has called on the High Court to take steps to ensure the country’s over 11,000 prisoners doing time will have their voices heard.
Attorney Havah Klein who drafted the lawsuit along with Attorney Ayal Shmolovitz, said that while the law doesn’t ban them from voting, logistically it’s not set up for it “because jails simply don’t have the apparatus set up to allow the voting”
It was presented in the names of three prisoners Elad Liberecht from Nitzan prison, Sergei Merlis from Rimonim prison, and Yehoshua Malchi in Maasiyahu prison, and calls for the high court to issue an explanation for why they are not organized to allow the prisoners to vote in their local election, as opposed to the general elections. The petition calls for the court to issue an interim injunction to call on the prison service to carry out steps to facilitate the voting.
Klein said Sunday that the inability to vote isn’t a result of legal restrictions, rather the fact that the state hasn’t I implemented the technical means to facilitate the voting. She added that the prisoner vote could be of great significance in a number of municipal election races which are close.
Sivan Weitzman, the spokesperson for the IPS said that she had heard about the petition on Sunday and that while the law does allow prisoners to vote in municipal elections, the logistical difficulties of supplying voting lists for all the possible prisoners and their local authorities has always been an issue.
“Just think how many ballot boxes we’d have to put out and how many lists for all the different prisoners and their particular local authorities,” she said Sunday.
It’s a different story altogether for the national elections, which require simply making the national ballot lists available to prisoners. In the last national elections in January, 63% of the more than 11,000 eligible voters in Israel’s prisons voted.
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