voting ballots 298 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
If the vote of Israeli officials in Canberra Thursday is any indication, then come Election Day many more Israelis will be voting than are registered to do so.
As Israel's consul in Austrialia, Sharon Polishuk, told Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni via video conference that 34 Israelis had already voted in Canberra on Thursday - the day when Israeli officials abroad voted absentee - a computer readout flashed on the opposite wall at the Foreign Ministry showing that only 18 Israelis had voter privileges there.
No, Polishuk said, people were not voting twice, but rather driving in from other areas in Australia to vote.
All told, 4,068 Israelis, out of hundreds of thousands who live, work or study abroad, had the right Thursday to vote. These lucky few were either civil servants, Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund or Keren Hayesod emissaries abroad, their spouses and voter-age children.
Livni said various ideas were being reviewed to expand the number of Israelis eligible to vote, and that legislation on the matter would likely be presented during the next Knesset.
Livni also said that while she supported voting rights for some Israelis abroad, such as students or those on business, she did not for all Israelis oversees, including those who have lived abroad for many years and had no intention of returning to live here.
Israeli civil servants abroad have only been able to vote since the Knesset passed legislation making this possible in 1992.
Thursday's voting took place in 92 Israeli legations around the globe, with New York boasting the most eligible Israeli voters (some 900), and Nouakchott in Mauritania the fewest (three). The ballots will be sent back to Jerusalem and counted with all the other votes on March 28.
Livni stressed that the ballots would not be counted separately.
"Not long ago there were elections in the Palestinian Authority, and the security forces voted separately," she said. "They then said that 85 percent of them supported Fatah. When I asked, 'How do you know? Elections are secret,' they said, 'No, their votes are counted separately.'
"To the Foreign Ministry staff I want to say that your votes are not counted separately, your votes are together with everyone else's and there is complete secrecy," Livni said.