“Voting here is so different than in America,” new immigrant Nathan Steiger said on his way to the ballot box Tuesday. “There, there’s not much of a decision for most people because there are only two parties, so most people just vote the same way, more or less.”
Nathan and his wife, Rachelle, moved to Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood last summer in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. While much of the country is familiar with, and weary of, the balloting process as the country votes for the fourth time in two years, the Steigers were voting in Israel for the first time.
“We still don’t really know Hebrew very well, so we’re a bit nervous about how it’s going to go with filling everything out,” Nathan said. “I hope there will be people who can help me.”
Rachelle said she found the process of choosing who to vote for confusing.
“I took an online quiz designed to match people’s opinions with the appropriate parties, but that just made it more confusing,” she said. “I thought I liked one party, but they came up third, and it suggested one party to the right of them and one to the left of them. Nothing felt like a good fit, and the issues I support were all over the map.”
In the end, though, the couple was surprised by the simplicity of the voting process.
“It was interesting because it was so different,” Natan said. “You just pick out a slip of paper and put it into a little envelope instead of checking off boxes. It was really simple, just different than we expected.”
For most long-time residents, Tuesday’s election felt routine.
“I’ve been here since 2003, so I must have voted eight or so times,” said David Kable, another Katamon resident. “I guess all Election Days are kind of exciting, and I’m voting for a new party today, so I hope they do well. But I think at the end of the day, we’ll probably still be in the same sort of situation as we’ve had in the past three elections where there’s no clear-cut winner.”
This year, the election was scheduled just four days before Passover begins, so many citizens spent their day off from work cleaning.
“We are doing some basic cleaning around the house, and the kids are home, as they have been for most of the past year,” Kable said. “But there is always an excitement in the air on Election Day, and it feels a bit like a holiday.”
Not everyone was as positive. Benny and Judy, a British couple who moved to Israel many years ago, said they were frustrated by voting yet another time during the political deadlock.
“I’ve done this so many times in the past few years,” Judy said. “Nothing is surprising anymore.”