Ahead of the January 2013 elections, some 4,000 students from higher education
institutions across Israel signed a petition recently asking to have voting
polls installed on campuses.
As of today, according to Israeli law,
citizens must vote in the area where they reside. The only exceptions to this
rule are army bases and prisons.
The petition was initiated by Or Harpaz,
a politics and geography student of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba earlier
this month, after realizing that many students will not vote because of the
distance between their school and their homes.
“I think at my university,
at BGU, it’s probably the most extreme case because so many of the students here
come from areas more in the North or in the Center. Not many are actually from
Beersheba,” Harpaz explained.
He added that many of his classmates have
been talking about not voting this year. The election is a few days before final
exams and many say they don’t have time to go home, stand in line to vote and
come back to school, something they see as an inconvenience.
every university in the country has a large percentage of students who live far
from school,” he added.
“It means that a big part of society won’t be
voting, and I think that in a democratic country, there needs to be equal access
to voting polls,” Harpaz continued, “Something needs to change. In Europe, you
can go anywhere to vote. In Israel it’s an old fashioned system.”
4,000 signatures on the petition come from students in various different
universities and colleges in Israel such as Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew
University, the University of Haifa and more.
Harpaz’s initiative came
after the National Union of Israeli Student had also addressed the issue and
sent a letter to the Central Elections Committee last month.
population in Israel surrounds 300,000 individuals enrolled in 67 institutions
across the country,” the letter said. “Despite their strong social and political
involvement, they encountered many logistical difficulties on election day
because of the need to return to their parents’ home to vote, as most of them do
not change their permanent home addresses when moving away to study.”
Central Elections Committee had answered the request by explaining that allowing
mobile polling stations on campuses would mean changing the law, which is not
easy to do, particularly not in time for next month’s election.
provide free transportation from campus,” Ori Restik, chairman of the National
Union of Israeli Students, told The Jerusalem Post
on Thursday, “but it makes it
cheaper, not easier. Money isn’t the issue, time is.”