New drive aims to up Jerusalem voter turnout

“The current makeup of the city council does not properly represent the public, and that harms democracy.”

Israeli election ballots [File] (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli election ballots [File]
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The percentage of Jerusalemites who vote in Knesset elections is up to 40%  higher than in municipal elections in some Jerusalem neighborhoods, and it is time to change that, a new grassroots campaign called Anachnu said Sunday.
The campaign commissioned a study that found that some 30,000 people who vote for the Knesset do not vote for their city councilmen. To fix that, Anachnu will be sending people information and planning events to encourage turnout in the October 30 race.
The organizers of the campaign stressed that they are not affiliated with any party and would not take a side in the race for mayor.
They promised that information would be printed and events held in English in neighborhoods with large English-speaking populations.
Ultra-Orthodox vandalize Jerusalem mayoral hopeful Rachel Azaria's campaign posters, July 22, 2018 (Courtesy Rachel Azaria Spokesperson)


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“The current makeup of the city council does not properly represent the public, and that harms democracy,” said Anachnu spokesman Yossi Saidov. “Our goal is for the council to better reflect the demography of the city. We don’t tell people who to vote for. Our goal is to get people to vote. We want the Jerusalem public to express its views in the ballot box.”
Saidov said the turnout in national and local elections are nearly the same in haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods, there is not a significant difference in well-off pluralist neighborhoods. But he said the difference is massive in outlying neighborhoods like Gilo, Kiryat Hayovel, Kiryat Menahem, and Armon Hanatziv.
He said this discrepancy resulted in a city council that has 14 haredi city councilmen and another two National Religious councilmen who regularly voted with them on issues that harmed the secular population of the city.
One major difference in this election is that for the first time for municipal elections, there will be a work holiday. But the organizers of Anachnu said they were worried that was not enough.
“We hope the free day helps, but we also worry the people will use it to go to the beach,“ said Inbar Bluzer Shalem, one of the heads of Anachnu. “That is why we will be organizing happenings in partnership with community centers.”