Fraud allegations plague municipal runoff votes

In Ramat Gan, residents received text messages saying that candidate Carmel Shama-Hacohen reached an agreement with Interior Minister Arye Deri to incorporate Ramat Gan into Tel Aviv.

Candidate Ofer Cohen voting in Kfar Vradim. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Candidate Ofer Cohen voting in Kfar Vradim.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Mayoral candidates in several of the towns holding a second round of voting on Tuesday complained to the police that their rivals were defrauding local residents.
Fifty-five municipalities and local councils throughout the country, from Kiryat Shmona in the North to Eilat in the South, held runoff elections two weeks after the first round.
In Ramat Gan, residents received text messages saying that candidate Carmel Shama-Hacohen reached an agreement with Interior Minister Arye Deri to incorporate Ramat Gan into Tel Aviv.
Deri and Shama-Hacohen both strongly denied the allegation, and the latter blamed his rival, incumbent Yisrael Singer.
“The text messages are fabricated,” Deri’s office said. “They are total lies that are only meant to harm Carmel Shama-Hacohen. The content of the text messages are false, libelous, and we will examine how to take legal action against those who sent it. Minister Deri never sought to shut down Ramat Gan and Carmel Shama never committed to anything in return.”
Shama-Hacohen called the messages “an attempt to steal the election.”
Tirat Carmel’s runoff also featured a spate of fake text messages involving Shas. This time, residents were told that candidate Kfir Ovadia plans to form a broad coalition with the ultra-Orthodox party. Ovadia is running against Aryeh Tal, who has been mayor since 1993, with a six-year break from 2003-2009.
“How pathetic does a mayor of 25 years need to be to pretend to be someone else and send messages,” Ovadia’s campaign asked.
 Candidate Avihai Stern voting in Kiryat Shmona. Candidate Avihai Stern voting in Kiryat Shmona.
A more creative approach was on display in Yehud-Monosson, when dozens of residents found that they had received parking tickets, despite being parked legally. The tickets were fake, as they found out after complaining to the municipality.
In Kfar Saba, candidate Yossi Sedbon alleged that hundreds of voting slips with his name on them were stolen.
The election in the Ashkelon Shore Regional Council was postponed due to the escalation in rocket fire from Gaza.
Deri said he decided to postpone the election in the Ashkelon Shore region “because the residents’ security is more important. We cannot hold an election when the residents cannot leave safe structures, shelters and at-home safe rooms. The elections will be postponed until quieter days.”