Only way to prevent fourth elections is for everyone to go vote

Pollsters are predicting another tight race between the Likud, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White, headed by Benny Gantz.

VOTING IS a revolutionary act (photo credit: REUTERS)
VOTING IS a revolutionary act
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This is a situation that almost no one could have predicted: Israel is going back to the polls today for the third election in less than a year. Among the general public there has been a certain amount of apathy, fewer campaigners have been seen distributing party fliers and stickers on the streets, and not as many posters and banners can be seen hanging from balconies and in windows.
The Central Elections Committee has been running a new campaign centered on youth from different communities with the slogan, “You still have no right to forgo your right [to vote].” The clips stress that if adults forgo their votes, it’s as if they are giving up on their children’s rights and in determining their future.
Israel’s population stands at just over nine million – some six million of whom are eligible to vote. Since the last elections, held in September 2019, the number of eligible voters ages 18 and above has risen by 62,000 (1.1%) according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Perhaps the most dramatic differences between this election and its predecessors is that more than 1,000 people are in home quarantine because of the coronavirus threat. Special polling stations have been set up, operated by Magen David Adom, for those who are potentially carrying the disease. Those people are being asked to be sensible and act morally – to refrain from using public transportation, to travel directly to and from the polling station, to wear a mask and so on.
This was an unexpected development and the first time the country – perhaps even the world – has had to deal with this type of challenge. The Central Elections Committee is concerned that coronavirus could be exploited in fake news items to discourage people from voting.
The committee has established a special panel, including representatives of the police and the state attorney’s office to swiftly deal with such abuses.
A joke making the rounds on social media quips that voters need not bring identity cards this time, as the people manning the polling stations remember their faces and ID numbers. Humor helps, but the situation is serious.
There are 120 seats in the Knesset. In order to get seated, a party must pass the 3.25% electoral threshold. Hence, a great deal depends on the number of eligible voters who place their ballots in the election boxes. In fact, despite all the unknown factors regarding today’s election for the 23rd Knesset, one thing is clear: This is an election in which a great deal depends on voter turnout.
One of the extraordinary consequences of the coronavirus scare has been that people have canceled vacations abroad. Since the election this time is on a Monday instead of a Tuesday, as is usual, it seems many potential voters had been considering a long weekend abroad.
Pollsters are predicting another tight race between the Likud, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White, headed by Benny Gantz. Neither of them is expected to garner sufficient seats to create a stable government of at least 61 seats, without creating a coalition. And building a coalition – as we have seen – is not easy.
Ultimately, the election results will depend on how many people vote and which parties they turn out to vote for. Will smaller parties on the Right or Left pass the threshold, or will their votes be wasted? What percentage of the ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities will vote? As the number of votes necessary to get into the Knesset depends on the overall number of voters, how smaller parties fare could have a large impact on the coalition-building process.
Whether your preference is for the Left or Right, if you have the right to vote and don’t exercise it, you don’t have the right to complain about the results afterward. There is a reason that Election Day in Israel is a day off: to give everyone more than ample opportunity to exercise their democratic right.
Central Elections Committee director-general Orly Ades said last week: “We want to believe this is the last [election]. People have to realize that this will probably be the decisive election, so even if they are tired, disgusted or complain that the first two didn’t matter, they still need to come vote and have an impact on their lives and their future.”
Voting is not just a right, it’s a duty. All those eligible should turn out to vote. Do your part to prevent a fourth round of elections.