US voters in Israel say iVoteIsrael flubbed absentee ballot requests

“This is ridiculous. Obviously iVoteIsrael is trying to do a service, but it’s a disservice if it doesn’t work,” she said.

October 13, 2016 20:34
2 minute read.
COLORADO RESIDENTS vote in the US midterm elections last week

COLORADO RESIDENTS vote in the US midterm elections. (photo credit: REUTERS)

More than a dozen US citizens in Israel have complained that the get-out-thevote organization iVoteIsrael did not mail their ballot requests in time to meet the deadline for voting.

Absentee ballot requests must be postmarked by Friday in order to be accepted in New York, a state from which many American-Israelis hail.

The deadline for receiving the request – not a postmark – in most other US states with large numbers of immigrants, is early November.

Eitan Charnoff, national director of iVoteIsrael, told The Jerusalem Post it’s possible a small number of forms were lost, but they are an anomaly of the thousands mailed.

“Things get lost in the mail and it could be that individual forms were not filled out properly,” said Charnoff.

“You’re citing 10 people complaining out of thousands....

Sometimes things get misplaced even with our assistance.”

Charnoff said if voters did not receive a ballot, there is always a “plan B,” which is printing out a generic writein ballot available online.

Helene Eisenstein-Belo of Tel Aviv, who made aliya from Rochester, New York, was concerned Thursday about not having received a ballot – neither via email nor “snail mail” – and called her local election board, only to find that the absentee ballot request she submitted on August 9 at an iVoteIsrael event in Tel Aviv was never received.

“What’s the point of iVoteIsrael if they can’t get my ballot request in on time?” she lamented, as she printed out ballot requests for several friends who found themselves in the same situation.

“New York voters need to know that they have to send in their ballot request right away or they can’t vote.”

Tzeira Ostrovsky, a Tel Aviv resident who is registered to vote in Virginia, submitted a ballot request at the same iVoteIsrael event as did Eisenstein-Belo, only to find during a recent visit to the US that her request was also never received.

“This is ridiculous. Obviously iVoteIsrael is trying to do a service, but it’s a disservice if it doesn’t work,” she said.

Before leaving for her trip, Ostrovsky sent iVoteIsrael a Facebook message, and they said all ballots would be sent by the first week of October.

Steven Slivnick, who hails from Illinois, called his election board after seeing others post about iVoteIsrael, and found his request was not received.

“Calling my local voting board this close to the election, and them telling me that they haven’t received anything, hasn’t inspired confidence in iVoteIsrael.

Next election, I think I’ll register myself and not trust it to an external organization,” Slivnick wrote in a Facebook message.

In 2012, iVoteIsrael quadrupled the number of Israelis voting, compared to the US previous general election, with 80,000 out of 160,000 eligible voters in Israel taking part in the election. This included an increase of votes in swing states such as Florida, where 7,500 ballots were cast from Israel, and Ohio, with 3,500 ballots. According to an iVoteIsrael poll, 85% voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney and 15% for US President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

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