Some things in this country work just fine. We often get notices that are unsolicited and sent for our good – be they from the National Insurance Institute to inform us of our rights or from our health fund urging us to avail ourselves of vaccines and other services. There’s more, much more. The imparted impression is that on occasion the bureaucratic machine is well-oiled and well-intentioned.

One of those confidence-inspiring items of mail that would come our way every few years was the familiar notice to the voter, ahead of each electoral bout –national or local. It informed us where our polling station is and even directed us to a specifically numbered room within that station. Not only that, it informed the monitoring staff exactly on which line of the voters’ roll to find our name. The notice made fulfilling our civic duty as smooth and as speedy as can be.

In these days of cyber-magic it was natural to assume that things would function ever more efficiently.

Instead, however, this elections season we witness a collapse of what we took for granted for decades.

This time around, many Israelis have not gotten their voter notices. The Interior Ministry announced that it plans to thrash out the issue with the company that for the first time won the tender and undertook to produce and deliver the notices three weeks before polling day. To date, however, numerous voters have not received the customary cards, and they likely never will at this late stage.

In some cases the notices ended up at the wrong address. In Beersheba, hundreds of notices were found dumped in the garbage. In Haifa, a pile was left strewn about in an apartment house lobby without being inserted into the designated mailboxes. Most absentee notices, though, are simply unaccounted for.

The tender-winner, the Israel Postal Company and the Interior Ministry all energetically trade accusations.

The Central Elections Committee has assured the public that there are ways around the notices we have grown so used to. A telephone number has been published via which perplexed citizens can presumably attain whatever information was not delivered to their mail boxes. Yet here another botch manifests itself. The frequent response the caller gets is that “the number you have dialed is not connected.”

This would be funny enough for sitcom if it were not so sad. There is no excuse for our inability to depend on what was for so long reliable.

The printed notice can of course also be circumvented by the online option. It is possible to find out the information on the Internet (https://kalpi.elections.gov.il/), where things do work. This is a handy solution for most of the voters who were left high and dry.

Nevertheless, the problem with digital solutions is that not everyone can benefit from them. The growing tendency both for officialdom, the business community and numerous service providers is to send members of the public to their computers. It is certainly cost-effective. But it is too often forgotten that there are segments of the population who are not computer savvy or who do not even possess PCs.

These population segments are simply allowed to fall by the wayside.

It may be plausible, even profitable, for entrepreneurs to write off clients who cannot keep up with cutting-edge communications, but it is unconscionable for the Central Elections Committee to do so. Voting is a basic and self-evident right for all citizens, regardless of their technological skills. In this sphere nobody is dispensable and nobody may be written off.

Lessons must be learned from this year’s fiasco. Perhaps the most fundamental is a rethink about tenders.

It is clearly not enough to choose a contender who offers the lowest price. Choices have to take into account the applicant’s ability to abide by deadlines and to provide a professional service on a nationwide scale.

Even if underrated in popular perception, organizing all the nitty-gritty details of Election Day is a civic mission of the highest order. It might not be advisable to leave parts of this project to the lowest bidder.

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