Bennett, Shaked out of Knesset in official vote count

Melcer: There was no cyber-attack; technical bug on elections website causes vote-count chaos.

April 12, 2019 15:16
2 minute read.
The New Right's Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked walk off after exit polls show they won't enter th

The New Right's Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked walk off after exit polls show they won't enter the 21st Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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The New Right Party, led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, did not pass the electoral threshold in the official vote count, Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer announced overnight Thursday, after hours of confusion and a lack of clarity on whether the IDF soldiers’ votes changed the final results.

The New Right received 136,437, 3.16% of the vote, falling short of the 3.25% electoral threshold.

The Central Elections Committee reserved the right to change the results after reviewing complaints from everyone who claimed that there were irregularities, up until Wednesday.

A technical error on the Central Elections Committee’s website prevented publicly-available numbers on the vote count from reflecting the real results of the election throughout the day on Thursday.

The chaos began early in the morning, when the website showed the New Right had would get into the Knesset thanks to the soldiers, with just 0.01% over the 3.25% electoral threshold.

But sources in the committee leaked to the media that those numbers were wrong, and that Bennett and Shaked’s party would remain outside the Knesset, by a very narrow margin.

The New Right then demanded a recount of "double envelopes," which include soldiers, diplomats and others. Those votes often lead minor changes in the makeup of the Knesset after the initial votes are counted.

At about 11 a.m., the Central Elections Committee announced that they finished counting the double envelopes and that they are starting a review of the figures entered into the computers, which they said they do in every election.

Meanwhile, officials from the Shin Bet were spotted in the Knesset, igniting rumors of a possible cyber-attack. There were also persistent reports of dozens of ballot boxes that had not been counted, which the committee denied.

In the evening, Melcer said he was “in close and constant contact with security branches that said there is no information connecting the problem with a cyber event.

“We identified a technical problem in the interface between the core system of the committee and the website that is made public,” Melcer explained. “There was no problem in the core system, which is not connected to the Internet, or in the counting of the votes. The numbers that will appear at midnight are the real numbers that I will present to the President.”

The source of the technical problem seemed to be that the Central Elections Committee website was based on the format from the previous elections, and the number of votes – both in total and in individual ballot boxes – was unable to be updated, such that the percentages were wrong on the website. This also explained why some towns had a voting rate of over 100%.

Before counting the soldiers' votes, the New Right reached 3.14% of the vote, or 127,504 votes.

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