Israelis went to the polls Tuesday to exercise their democratic right, but after
six decades of practice, it seems that there are still a few kinks to work
Forget about the fact we’re still using paper ballots and envelopes
(at least there weren’t any chads), but what’s the deal with the one big ballot
box? Voters were given two envelopes to fill, one for the mayoral candidate and
the other for their municipal council selection. However, when emerging from
behind the curtain, they were told to deposit both envelopes into one
When queried why there weren’t two boxes available, which would have
saved the whole sorting procedure, one poll monitor at a Ma’aleh Adumim polling
station just shrugged, chuckled and quipped that it was a cost-saving
A more perplexing – and possibly sticky – issue revolved around
the envelopes themselves. Three different voters at three different polling
stations had three different experiences.
One sealed his ballots inside
the two envelopes, peeling the slips off the sticky flaps before adhering them
and depositing both together in the box, with no problems.
the same, but was stopped by one of the polling station monitors as she was
about to deposit the envelopes and asked why she sealed them. Maybe because
there were sticky flaps on them just begging to be sealed? The third voter was
told before going behind the curtain to not seal the envelopes but to leave them
open. Perhaps it was a function of how much foresight the monitors had,
envisioning having to rip open hundreds of sealed envelopes instead of simply
sliding the ballot out of the open ones.
But compared to the relatively
smooth process experienced by most voters, a little uncertainty on the rules can
Outside polling stations around the country, there was the
usual jostling, sloganeering and unsubtle last minute appeals/demands from
volunteers to vote for their candidates.
Static-filled loudspeakers on
top of trucks, huge banners surrounding the schools that had been converted into
polling stations and a shuk-like atmosphere reminded us that, after all, we’re in
the Middle East. But it also reminded us that though it may be messy and
informal, Israel’s democracy is strong and vibrant, even if we don’t know
whether to seal the envelope or not.
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