Ro'eh beats Mintz in Binyamin mayorial race

Computerized voting tested in pilot.

The Pinhas Wallerstein era in the Binyamin Regional Council ended after 28 years on Tuesday, when elections were held to replace him. Avi Ro'eh beat Adi Mintz, the former director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip in a race for mayor of the West Bank region north of Jerusalem. Ro'eh, who ran on a campaign of stopping the Annapolis diplomatic process, won 70 percent of the vote. Wallerstein, who is one of the settlers' most respected spokesmen, decided not to run for reelection after his failure to stop the Gaza Strip withdrawal left him disheartened. The race was perhaps the most significant of 26 races in regional council elections held Tuesday. Elections were also held in the regional councils of Golan, Misgav, Eshkol, Megilot, Shomron, Mevo'ot Hahermon, Ha'arava Hatihona, Ma'aleh Yosef, Ramat Hanegev, Merhavim, Sdot Negev, Sha'ar Hanegev, Hof Ashkelon, Yoav, Shapir, Gderot, Brenner, Hof Hasharon, Menashe, Zevulun, Lev Hasharon, Emek Hayarden, Mateh Asher, and the Upper and Lower Galilee. Together, the councils represent 467 communities and 191,032 people who were eligible to vote in 552 polling stations. The turnout, which reached 70%, was unexpectedly high. For the first time in Israel's history, computerized voting was tried out in a pilot program in six communities, where people were asked to vote by computer after voting officially in the traditional way by putting a ballot in an envelope. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, who initiated the experiment, said he was convinced that the new system would succeed and pave the way for computerized voting in the next general election. "This is the first stage of a project that will have a significant impact on the residents of the country," Sheetrit said. "I am sure this will allow us to progress as many countries have."