(photo credit: COURTESY OF DR YEHEZKEL CAINE/HERZOG HOSPITAL)
The Knesset Interior Committee approved for a second and third reading a bill to place ballot boxes for elections for municipalities and local authorities in nursing homes and hospitals.
Proposed by committee chair MK David Amsalem and MK David Bitan, the bill will not be implemented until 2023 because the Interior Ministry said it needs time to prepare for the change.
The polling stations that will be installed in nursing homes and hospitals will be part of either the regular polling quota or of the quota for the disabled. In places where they are meant for people with disabilities, disabled people who do not live in the institution will also be able to vote there.
Joint List MK Abdullah Abu Marouf opposed this last regulation, saying that people who do not live in the old-age home should not be permitted to vote there to avoid fraud, but Amsalem did not accept his position.
“This is at the discretion of the Central Elections Committee. If there is a school where 800 people vote, it only makes sense that some can vote in a nursing home instead of at the school,” said Amsalem.
In response to the Interior Ministry’s claims that it will take years to prepare for the change, Amsalem said: “We have enacted a law that prisoners in prisons can vote in prisons. Now, residents of nursing homes will also be able to vote there. The only ones we exclude are patients.
“By law, you have to pay for their transportation to the polling stations,” he continued.
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“You in the Interior Ministry are supposed to provide service to the residents. We are talking about the next elections. You are asking for an absurd, unfair, immoral and illogical situation.
How many hospitals are there in Israel? 20?” A ministry representative responded: “According to our data, the law will require placing 200 polling stations in hospitals.”
“So 200 polling stations out of a total of 40,000?” countered Amsalem. “That is why you will prevent a person with an infusion from voting? This is a basic principle, but I agree to postpone polling stations in hospitals for elections so that you will have less pressure in your chest.”
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