Comptroller recommends Israeli elections be computerized

The State Comptroller report finds that 1,600 people not in the country mysteriously voted.

Israel Elections: Voting ballot, March 23, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel Elections: Voting ballot, March 23, 2021.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman called on the Central Elections Committee to renew the process of considering a shift to computerized balloting in Israel, in a report released on Wednesday.

Israel is among the few Western countries that do not have any computerized voting, with Israelis still voting by putting paper ballots into envelopes.

At the very least, Engleman wrote, Israel should computerize its voter databases and the process of identifying voters at polling stations, and that proper computer systems could eliminate the need for double envelopes in absentee balloting.

In Israel, absentee balloting is limited to diplomats and other emissaries abroad. Nevertheless, the comptroller found that 1,600 others voted who were not in the country on Election Day, apparently by sending someone to vote for them or due to irregularities at polling stations.

According to the report, 78 dead people voted in the 2020 election for the 23rd Knesset. Almost a quarter of double-envelope votes disqualified were cast by secretaries or committee members of polling stations with authority over maintaining proper voting.

Voting Stations at the Knesset (credit: ODED CARNI)
Voting Stations at the Knesset (credit: ODED CARNI)

The comptroller examined data from the three elections in 2019 and 2020 and found problems with the Central Elections Committee’s computer system, which is 14 years old and not cyber-proof. He recommended forbidding allowing one person to make decisions on disqualifying ballots and setting new cyber policy guidelines that are more in line with international standards.

The Central Elections Committee said that many of the comptroller’s recommendations were already implemented during the challenging period of four elections in two years.

The committee drafted as a consultant former National Cyber Authority head Buki Carmeli, who helped improve its defense systems.

A spokesman for the committee said the comptroller’s data about people voting when abroad or dead was incorrect.