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Israel Election: A Voter’s Guide to Casting Your Ballot

There are 6,578,084 Israelis who are eligible to vote in Tuesday’s general election. Here’s a short guide to how it works:

There will be 13,685 polling places in Israel and another 103 in Israeli diplomatic offices abroad. You should have received a postcard in the mail with your polling place, but if you didn’t you can find it on the Interior Ministry website or by calling a hotline (1-800-201-179, Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian or Amharic). You can also send your ID number and the date it was issued by text (050-8085445) or fax (1-800-201-187) to get the information.

Who can vote?

Any citizen who turned 18 by Election Day (born March 23, 2003 or before) and whose name was in the population registry by January 28, 2021.

What do I need?

An ID (including military or police when applicable), driver’s license or valid passport. Police officers need a permit to vote wearing civilian clothes if they’re not in uniform. Bring the voter’s postcard to expedite the process, but you also need a valid form of ID.

When are polls open?

Most polling places open at 7 A.M. and close at 10 P.M. In communities with fewer than 350 voters, as well as in prisons and hospitals, voting hours are 7 A.M.-8 P.M. At polls for people in isolation or have COVID-19, the hours 8 A.M.-7 P.M.

What are the pandemic rules?

To reduce crowding, more than 3,000 polling places were added. Each will have two voting booths, to speed things up and reduce waits. Floors will be marked to help people stay 2 meters apart, and an usher will enforce mask-wearing and physical distancing. Poll workers will sit behind a clear barrier, and voters will be asked to use hand sanitizer before and after casting their votes. You’ll be asked to lower your mask briefly so you can be identified.

What if I’m in isolation or have COVID-19?

There are drive-in polls for patients and some people in quarantine, as well as polling places in HMO clinics. If you tested positive you must use the transportation organized by the Central Elections Committee.

If you’re in isolation you can drive to the poll in your car alone or with family members in isolation. If you’re in isolation and don’t have a car, the elections committee will provide transport. If you’re in isolation you must go straight to the poll and return home without making stops.

The Central Elections Committee website lists polling places and transportation information for COVID-19 patients and quarantined people.

How does drive-in voting work?

Drive-in polling places are open 8 A.M.-7 P.M. Rides can be ordered until 4 P.M. You’ll travel in a taxi with a partition between the front and rear seats. Ill members of the same household can ride together. After voting, you goes straight back to the vehicle you came in. If you’re too sick to leave the vehicle, a ballot box will be brought to you.

Voters use double envelopes at nonstandard polling places. You’ll put your ballot slip inside an envelope as usual, but you’ll place it in a second envelope on which you’ll write your details before sliding it into the ballot box. Double-envelope votes are counted at election committee headquarters in the Knesset.

Help, my poll is in a different city!

Intercity bus and train service is free on Election Day. Call *8787 for details on routes.

What if I can’t vote at my assigned poll?

Soldiers, hospital patients, women in shelters, prisoners, disabled people in institutions and people who are serving the state or Zionist institutions abroad can vote by special arrangement by double envelope. Disabled people can also vote at any of the 2,218 accessible polling places. Call the hotline or check the election committee website for locations.

I’m in hospital and I want to vote

Patients with a permit from the hospital can vote in the hospital, as may hospital staff and police officers. Outpatients and family members, however, may not. Hospital polling places are open from 8 A.M.-8 P.M.

Can I bring someone into the voting booth?

Yes, if you need help voting due to illness or disability.

Can my ride to an accessible poll vote there?

Not unless they are also disabled.

Can I take a voting selfie?

By law, photography is prohibited. The only people who may photograph voting are inspectors overseeing the integrity of the voting and authorized by the Central Elections Committee.

What votes are invalid?

An envelope with a blank ballot that has nothing written on it is disqualified. Ballots are disqualified if something is written on them in ink that isn’t blue and that isn’t a party’s name or representative letters. Also disqualified is an envelope with any writing that could identify the voter (with the exception of the outer envelope of a double-envelope vote); an envelope containing two or more different ballots, or more than three identical ballots; an envelope that didn’t come from the election committee or an envelope that isn’t signed by two members of the polling station committee.

When will the official results be announced?

Although final results, or nearly final results, are expected by the end of the week, only next week, on March 31, will the official results be delivered to the president. A week later, on April 7, is the final date by which the president must give one of the party leaders the opportunity to try to form a government.

New Hope getting out the vote

Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party announced Monday they would run a transport service to bring voters from around the country to polling stations on Election Day, in an effort to boost voter turnout.

Sa’ar added that a New Hope call center will operate in hopes of convince undecided voters. The party is also planning to place 4,900 members and 1,500 volunteers in about 6,000 polling stations around Israel.

Sa’ar also said that he wouldn’t rule out joining a rotation deal for the premiership with Yair Lapid, to Channel 12 News anchor Rafi Reshef.

“I won’t commit myself to any unnecessary limitations,” Sa’ar said.

Source: HAARETZ

Header: A soldier casts his early vote at a military base near Kibbutz Regavim, last week. Credit: Corinna Kern / Reuters