Israel to set up drive-thru ballots for voters sick with COVID-19

To run the election under the current circumstances, the Central Elections Committee is adding 1,250 new polling stations, a 30% increase. Each polling station will cost taxpayers about NIS 20,000.

Drive-thru polling stations for March Knesset elections (photo credit: CENTRAL ELECTIONS COMMITTEE)
Drive-thru polling stations for March Knesset elections
(photo credit: CENTRAL ELECTIONS COMMITTEE)
Israelis who are sick with COVID-19 will be able to cast their ballots at drive-through polling stations that authorities hope will ensure a smooth election in March while minimizing infection risks.

In an online briefing on Monday, Central Elections Committee (CEC) head Orly Ades said that to run the election under the current circumstances, the CEC is adding 1250 new polling stations, a 30% increase. Each polling station will cost taxpayers some NIS 20,000.
There will be special polling stations for the sick, the quarantined and the hospitalized. There will be mobile polling stations at coronavirus testing centers where voters will be able to cast ballots without leaving their cars. Voters will pull up to a station, a ballot box will be rolled up to their window, and they then present their ID and pick a candidate without having to step outside.
The committee purchased large amounts of masks, dividers and disinfectants. It will try to draft vaccinated people to work in polling stations, especially the special ones and in nursing homes. 
"We in the Central Elections Committee can overcome any challenge," Ades said. "We won't let the obstacles get in the way. But we will do everything possible to maintain the health of the public."

Drive-thru polling stations for March Knesset elections (Credit: Central Elections Committee)Drive-thru polling stations for March Knesset elections (Credit: Central Elections Committee)

Ades added that American election authorities sought Israeli advice on how to conduct elections in the midst of the crisis over the coronavirus.
Ades said that she briefed 50 representatives from states across America, who inquired about Israeli procedures during the March 2 election when 2,500 quarantined Israelis cast ballots. She said that the briefing, which was supposed to last 90 minutes, ended up going on for three hours and the participants then sent follow-up questions.
"We were the first country in the world that conducted elections during the coronavirus era," Ades said. "They wanted to know what we did and what lessons we learned and how we handled crowds. Since then, some 70 countries have had elections, though some decided to postpone them due to the impact of the pandemic."
Asked what lessons Israel learned from problems with voting in the American election last month, Ades said that the problems there were primarily with voting by mail, which Israel does not have. She singled out a recent election in Poland, which she said was conducted completely by mail and was not successful.