An Israeli flag is seen in the background as a man casts his ballot for the parliamentary election.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After the polls closed on Tuesday night in the election for the 20th Knesset, the Central Elections Committee reported voter turnout at 71.8 percent, the highest turnout since 1999 and 4.1% more than the last election in 2013.
In the second-to-last turnout update at 8 p.m., 65.7% percent of eligible voters had taken to the polls.
The latest figure registered almost 2% more than the 63.9% voter turnout at the same hour in the 2013 election.
While the election was expected to attract the highest voter turnout since 1999, at 6 p.m. turnout was slightly trailing numbers from the previous election's 55.5% with only 54.6% of all eligible voters having cast their ballots.
The previous update recorded the turnout up until 4 p.m as standing at 45.4%, which was slightly less than the 46.6% voter turnout at the same hour in the previous election.
As of 2 p.m., the the Central Elections Committee reported the turnout at 36.7%. The number also represented a slight drop from the voter turnout in the 2013 election, when at the same time 38.3% had cast their ballots.
At noon on Tuesday, voter turnout had reached 26.5%. The figure was similar to the turnout percentage in the 2013 election at the same time.
Earlier Tuesday at 10 a.m., voter turnout was 13.7% representing 757,880 voters in 9,100 polling stations and was 2.7% higher compared to the same time in the 2013 election.
As of 11 a.m. 10% of Israeli Arabs voted as opposed to only 3% at this time in the last election, according to the Arab Joint List party.
Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said Tuesday the high voter turnout rate was "good for the nation and good for Israel."
Nearly six million voters will be eligible to cast ballots in more than 10,000 polling stations across the country Tuesday.
Until that race, voter turnouts regularly approached 80 percent.
Since then, they have not hit 70%. But the closeness of the race – combined with boosted resources aimed at getting out the vote – are expected to significantly increase turnout.
Exit polls will be broadcast at 10 p.m. Tuesday on the three television networks, but official results will not be presented to President Reuven Rivlin until March 25. Formal consultations on forming a new government will begin next week, but Rivlin will receive calls before then in an effort to build a stable coalition as soon as possible.