Half an hour after police had interrogated the woman voter, the cops raided two apartments in a building near that voting station, and caught 140 ID cards that were spread on tables in both places. In addition, police found what they dubbed “costumes”: different head scarves, sunglasses, women’s hats. They also discovered a list of local election stations and two passports.
Seven Haredim were arrested in the two apartments, while some 15 fled through windows. Another group actually attacked the cops, trying to prevent the arrest and the collection of the incriminating items. As the police were picking up the suspects, another Haredi man arrived in a car and the cops found 31 ID cards inside the vehicle. The frightened driver attempted to dump additional ID cards in a nearby garbage can and those were picked up by police as well.
In a discussion the day after the election, in front of Magistrates Court Judge Sharon Larry-Bavli, Jerusalem District Fraud Division investigators suggested several theories. They were certain that some of the ID cards were forgeries—and in at least one case an ID picture had been replaced by a passport photo. Other cards had been given by their owners so someone else would use them to vote – an obviously illegal act. But there was a third theory, that extremist Haredim were demanding of their flock to hand in their ID cards as a show of fealty to the anti-Zionist ideology, down with the state, etc. – and then those same Haredi extremists supplied their own people with the cards to vote the “right” way.
Shlomo Engleberg, who wears a knitted yarmulke, was an observer at a voting station in the Haredi Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet. He told Ma’ariv there were no suspicious voters, no problem ID cards – until it came to the vote count at the end of the night. It appeared that the 265 voters at that that particular station had produced 300 envelopes, or 35 more envelopes than voters.
According to Engleberg, he insisted that a note be made in the record and that the authorities be informed, but he has no idea whether or not there had been a follow up.
There were reported cases where Haredi voters who spent too much time behind the curtain were caught stuffing their pockets with voting notes, depleting the booth of some candidates’ notes. One such voter said it was all a nostalgia thing, he wanted to bring the notes home to his wife and children.
There are several testimonies by voters who arrived at their appointed station only to discover that they had already voted.
The solution the election committee agreed on in one such case sounds creative, but probably not legal, and someone should review it: a young woman who was listed to vote in Beit Shemesh but goes to school in Jerusalem, made the effort to get to the booth before the end of the day – only to discover that someone had already voted using her name. She finally managed to convince the committee that she had not voted before, but the chairman told her that if the number of envelopes exceeds the number of voters by one – they’d pick a random envelope and trash it.
So far, Judge Larry-bavli has remanded the seven Haredi suspects, and the prosecution should be able to get a conviction against them on a rich variety of voter fraud items. But the question of the validity of the entire vote in Beit Shemesh is outside the scope of the Magistrates Court.
For that to happen, someone in Beit Shemesh needs to sue.Yori Yanover
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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