Elections C'tee: Voter turnout at 63.7%, could top 70%

Voter turnout at 8p.m. is 4% higher than in 2009 and highest since 1999; Netanyahu still expected to form next government, but fears traditional Likud strongholds' low turnout could hurt party strength.

Netanyahu visit Western Wall after voting, Jan. 22, 2013 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Netanyahu visit Western Wall after voting, Jan. 22, 2013
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Central Elections Committee reported higher than expected voter turnout on Tuesday, with 63.7% percent of eligible voters casting their ballot by 8 p.m., as opposed to the 59.7% of Israelis who voted by 8 p.m. in the 2009 Knesset election. The voter turnout numbers marked the highest rate since the1999 election.
Central Elections Committee statistician Avraham Diskin said Tuesday that if the current rate of voting continues, turnout could top 70%, Channel 10 reported.
He cautioned, however, that "we have seen in the past that the trend can change at 8:00 p.m. Polls were set to close at 10 p.m., after which exit polls prognosticating the results of the elections were set to be released.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lamented the relatively low turnout in traditional Likud neighborhoods in the elections despite the high voter turnout across Israel.
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"There are reports that in regions that have traditionally been Likud strongholds, turnout has been lower than the national average," Netanyahu said during a visit to a polling station in Ashdod. "I therefore call on all generations of Likud voters to drop everything and go vote."
Netanyahu is widely expected to be tapped to form the next government, although final polls taken in the run-up to Tuesday's vote indicated that while his Likud-Beytenu party would indeed claim the most seats, there would be a significant drop from the 42 seats that it boasted when Likud and Yisrael Beytenu joined forces back in October.
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