Election overseer calls vote 'boring'

Justice Eliezer Rivlin praises police conduct, particularly in Umm el-Fahm

policeman vote 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
policeman vote 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
As if winter had waited all year long for election day, the weather threatened to take center stage Tuesday. But with thunder and downpours holding out until the afternoon, voters confounded predictions that bad weather would suppress the voter turnout, and throughout the day the media reported higher-than-expected numbers. As during every election year, there were complaints of Election Law violations at polling places across the country. By early Tuesday afternoon, parties had filed 68 complaints to Central Elections Committee (CEC) chairman Justice Eliezer Rivlin over alleged election misdemeanors, although Rivlin described it generally as a "boring day," given that there were 9,263 polling places. Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Dudi Cohen concurred, adding that police preparations and a large mobilization of officers had helped prevent disruptions. Cohen visited the CEC "war room" in the Knesset basement on Tuesday but had little to report, other than the disturbances that erupted in Umm el-Fahm, where National Union MK Arieh Eldad faced resistance from residents and had to be escorted from town by police. Rivlin praised the police's conduct overall and cited in particular the handling of tensions in Umm el-Fahm, where far-right activist Baruch Marzel had earlier been banned by police. "The police's conduct was wise and effective," Rivlin said, adding that its decisions had prevented flash points from erupting into major problems. The Israel Prisons Service reported that 54 percent of prisoners eligible to vote had cast their ballot by Tuesday evening, adding that 44 out of the 56 polling stations had closed. "No unusual incidents took place," the service said in a statement. The police's southern district also reported a peaceful election day "from Ashdod to Eilat." Southern District Chief Cmdr. Yohanan Danino toured a number of polling stations in the Negev and Lachish subdistrict, and also visited Beduin areas. Kadima complained that Likud activists had removed voter slips for Tzipi Livni's party at several polling stations, and in Kiryat Bialik, Kadima claimed, police caught several people who allegedly destroyed slips bearing the party's name. The National Union Party accused United Torah Judaism supporters of stealing National Union ballots from dozens of polling stations in Bnei Brak, while in Modi'in, police dispersed Shas activists who they said were handing out amulets to would-be voters. Meanwhile, the Greens said that there weren't enough slips to vote for their party in Nes Ziona, and Tzabar complained that its slips were missing from several polling stations in Haifa. In Jerusalem, a poll monitor was suspected of voting twice, while Meretz filed a complaint that its ballots had been forged or tampered with after a voter allegedly found Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman's name on the back of one of them. If the slip had been used, it would have been automatically disqualified. Lieberman's party submitted several complaints of its own, alleging ballot shortages, and in Upper Nazareth - one of his strongholds - there were claims that the party's slips were written in Hebrew and Arabic, causing confusion. Lieberman said early Tuesday morning that he was confident his supporters "would come and vote, even in a hurricane." It was not clear if the weather was a factor in an hour-long power outage at a polling station in Even Yehuda, where voting continued in the dark. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.