A few weeks ago I was asked by a friend in Likud to offer my services as a non-partisan ballot member for the upcoming Likud elections. I was a perfect fit since I have never been a Likud member and have never endorsed a candidate in any Likud primary election. So I stepped up and got the job.
I was delighted when I was offered the chairmanship of the Mevaseret Tzion poll, and happily accepted the position. I was proud to be part of the democratic process of an internal primary and expressed that view during an interview on JewishPress.com Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher’s radio show on Galei Yisrael. I told the listeners there would be a fair and free election in Mevaseret Tzion and I would not tolerate any corruption.
The following afternoon I was told that the elections in Mevaseret Tzion’s community center had been cancelled and instead were moved to Jerusalem. I was also informed that I had lost my chairmanship position. I asked a few of my Likud friends what they thought of the situation, and they suggested this was not a coincidence. Some of them asked that I come forward. Instead I agreed to be transferred to the Beit Shemesh branch. I was not totally convinced there was foul play, and I wanted to see this election through.
The Beit Shemesh branch election results were known from the start. The traditional Beit Shemesh Likud voters decided to boycott the election because they felt Prime Minister Netanyahu had turned his back on them. Last minute efforts by Likud’s Beit Shemesh heavyweight Kati Sheetrit to broker a deal between the two sides failed miserably. A group of Likud contractors stood outside the poll center and made sure to send their people home, preventing Netanyahu from a victory in the Beit Shemesh branch.
With an expected turnout of about 20 percent, Moshe Feiglin knew he would be winning Beit Shemesh. The question was by how much. Netanyahu wisely moved three of the four Mateh Yehudah Regional Council polls to the Beit Shemesh location. The move was meant to cushion the hit he was going to take at the seven Beit Shemesh polls.
I arrived at the polling station at 9 a.m. The manager of the location was clueless as to how to set up the ten voting stations and what to do with the fifty or so workers on site. The poll opened at 10:45, 45 minutes late. I spent the day checking voters’ identification and instructing them on how to vote in the three separate Likud elections. Turnout was under 20 percent. My polling station had the second largest turnout with a whopping sixty voters for the chairman election and 62 for the central committee and local branch elections. Our list had close to 300 voters. The results of my polling station were Feiglin 52, Netanyahu 8. Observers from both Feiglin’s and Netanyahu’s camps, along with an external lawyer, verified the results. Overall, Feiglin won over 80 percent of Beit Shemesh’s seven polls, winning 274 votes to Netanyahu’s 60. The final numbers called at 1 a.m. received a consensus from both camps.
I volunteered to work extra hours and filled an additional position of securing the ballots. I was entrusted to sign and verify the results of the seven Beit Shemesh polls, including the three Mateh Yehuda polls at my location. The form transferred possession of the ballots from the three lawyers at the location to me. I supervised the transfer of the ballot boxes onto the truck and accompanied the boxes to the drop-off spot in Petach Tikvah. Along the way I signed for the ballots from the additional Mateh Yehuda polling station and four Modiin polling stations. We dropped off the 15 ballots, and I transferred responsibility on to the industrial factory personnel.
When I saw the Beit Shemesh results posted on the Internet as Feiglin 126, Netanyahu 77, I knew they were wrong. I had verified every ballot result, and the official numbers appeared to be fabricated. I saw Feiglin was planning on appealing the results. I decided to take action and called Shmuel Sackett, a key Feiglin supporter, and offered my testimony as part of the official appeal. Sackett discussed the matter with Feiglin’s right-hand man, Michael Puah, but the two decided against it.
I want to make it clear that I am not a supporter of Moshe Feiglin. I don’t even understand the need to tinker with the results because Netanyahu won by a wide margin nationally in any case. The reason I am coming forward with my story is that I believe in democracy. I believe that every vote should count. I believe that it is unacceptable for me to accept the wages for my 20-hour workday and not speak up. All sixty voters at my polling station have the right to have their vote count. As I told the listeners of Galei Yisrael 1, I won’t tolerate any corruption.
Jeremy Man Saltan works in the Knesset for MK Yaakov Katz and is an adviser to the National Union Faction. Saltan runs the only blog that covers the Knesset’s legislative activity in English at www.knessetjeremy.com.
About the Author: Jeremy Saltan is a frequent guest on various radio programs and and a veteran political analyst. He has run political campaigns in English and Hebrew for Israeli municipality, party institution, primary and general elections. Jeremy’s opinion pieces have been published, quoted or credited by Voice of America, Daily Beast, France 24, Washington Post, BBC, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Israel National News and the Jewish Press and more.
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