Kadima gambles with computerized race

Kadima's 80,000 members will select their Knesset list by computer and not manually despite the problems with computer systems that plagued the primaries in Labor and Likud, Kadima's election committee decided Thursday. Labor's system crashed in their December 2 primary, forcing the party to cancel the vote at noon and hold a revote with manual voting two days later. Likud's system did not crash entirely in Monday's primary but many computers broke down, and the system was so complicated that it took voters much longer to vote, creating long lines at polling stations. A Kadima spokesman said the decision was made because Malam, the company that provides the computers, offered to boost the number of polling stations to 600 and provide 400 ushers to explain to people how to vote. Malam wanted to redeem its reputation after the problems in the Likud primary. Labor used a different company. He said that voting and counting the ballots manually would have been too difficult because each voter is asked to select 18-22 candidates. But a Kadima source said the real reason for the decision was that the party had already spent $2.5 million on the computer system. Kadima director-general Moshe Shehori vowed to quit if there were problems with the voting. To maximize voter turnout, the party decided Thursday to keep the polls open from 10 a.m. to midnight.