Cameras forbidden in polling stations

The Likud responded that it would respect the judge's decision and follow the law.

Film camera (illustrative) (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Film camera (illustrative)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
In a blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party, the head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer, decided Monday to forbid the Likud and other parties from operating cameras at polling stations.
Melcer ruled that for parties to systematically use cameras at polling stations, legislation would be needed. He wrote in his ruling that he would be in favor of a pilot program in which the Central Elections Committee would send out staff with cameras to ensure voting takes place without any wrongdoing.
“The Central Elections Committee will do everything possible to ensure clean voting and carry out the will of the voters, including preventing and deterring those who want to sway the results in their favor by violating the democratic rules of the game,” Melcer wrote.  
During the April 9 election, the Likud recruited some 1,350 election day polling-station observers to use hidden cameras to monitor polling stations in Arab cities.
The Likud responded that it would respect the judge’s decision and follow the law. The party said the Likud is considering the possibility of a primary legislation prior to the election.
The Joint List praised the ruling, saying that “the Likud’s effort to discourage voting in the Arab sector failed.” The party vowed to respond to the Likud’s efforts by maximizing Arab voter turnout in the September 17 election.
Several NGOs, including the Adalah legal advocacy organization for Arab citizens, the Israel Democracy Institute, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and the Movement for Quality Government, appealed to the CEC to ban Likud from placing cameras in voting stations.
The Likud has claimed that its operation was designed to expose voter fraud in polling stations in majority Arab locations. The organizations appealing against the Likud claim, however, said the purpose was to invalidate votes at such stations and reduce Arab voter turnout.
The day after the election, public relations firm Kaizler Inbar posted on Facebook about having participated in Likud’s hidden camera operation, and took pride in having lowered the voter turnout in the Arab sector.
“Because of the fact that we placed our election observers in every polling station, the voter turnout [in the Arab sector] was lower than 50%, the lowest it has been in recent years,” the firm wrote.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said in a position paper that there was no legal authority to place cameras in voting stations, and that he believed doing so could, under certain circumstances, be a criminal offense, constituting interference in the proper conduct of elections.