UTJ may challenge election results after losing seat to Likud

Central Elections Committee cancels six ballots due to fraud allegations.

United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov Litzman gets a briefing at the UTJ election campaign headquarters for the Jerusalem sector on Tuesday morning (photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov Litzman gets a briefing at the UTJ election campaign headquarters for the Jerusalem sector on Tuesday morning
(photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
United Torah Judaism is considering challenging the results of the election, the party announced Wednesday, after losing a seat  in the official vote count released the night before.
The Central Election Committee’s official election results gave Likud 32 instead of the 31 they had in the final and unofficial count, and UTJ seven instead of eight. The change in the Knesset’s makeup does not alter the number of recommendations for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remain in place or for Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to take his place.
UTJ argued that it deserves its eighth seat and that there is information missing, which would not allow election results to be finalized.
Central Election Committee chairman Hanan Melcer wrote in his report on voter fraud allegations, released together with the final results, that the law gives him a limited amount of time to examine the votes.
“If mistakes will be found after, they could further change the results of the election that were publicized, and if God forbid more criminal actions are found, the law has solutions,” Melcer wrote.
“We hope that following [the challenge to the election results], the truth will be made clear and we will get our eight mandates,” UTJ’s statement reads.
The Central Elections Committee reported that its “election integrity supervisors” spread around the country – some of whom wore body cameras – along with party representatives who submitted complaints, led to the committee to examine “several cases of suspicions, backed by evidence, that there were attempts to twist the results of the election at a certain ballot, while committing crimes.”
Still, “there were not many cases brought to our attention with evidence, but even those lone occurrences require significant care, both on the administrative and the criminal [justice] level,” the committee’s 19-page report said.
The votes in three ballots in Yarka, a Druze town in the North, and one each in Sakhnin, Shfaram and Arrabe, Arab cities in the North, were canceled due to credible fraud accusations amounting to over 3.25% of the votes.
One of the canceled ballots in Yarka had 595 votes in it, even though only 401 people were authorized to vote there.
In another case, a ballot committee in Yarka said that at 9 p.m. on Election Day, 15-20 young men ran into the room and put envelopes in the ballot box. The committee was able to identify those envelopes and remove them, counting the rest. Another ballot in Yarka had only three extra votes, which the committee decided was likely human error and decided to count it.
Yarka is home to Likud MK Patin Mula, and the party credits its boost after the town’s votes were counted to his efforts. However, Mula is 33 on the Likud list, and remained out of the Knesset.
In Fureidis, a man came to the polling place, said he is a Central Elections Committee observer and asked everyone to leave the room. When the ballot committee secretary opened the door, he saw the man with his pants down and holding many envelopes. The man then ran away. The ballot committee found 156 suspicious envelopes with Meretz slips inside and 74 for other parties.
Melcer had the allegations brought to the police and attorney general so they can open a criminal investigation. The attorney-general can decide whether to challenge the cancellation, which could lead to a re-vote in those ballots.
There has only been one re-vote in Israel’s history, in 1988, but it took the court more than two years to come to that decision, and the vote happened in 1991. The results did not change the make-up of the Knesset.