Good morning and welcome to our obligatory election day morning piece, which could have been written last September for all the news you’ll find in it. But it must be written, because you just can’t start Election Day without a bunch of trite cliches about democracy, the voter, decisions, etc. – it’s the law.
The vote for the 19th Knesset began at 7:00 AM, as more than 5.6 million Israelis who are entitled to vote are expected to exercise their right, in 10,100 ballots around the country.
By the way, did you know that in Australia they get as many as 97% of the eligible voters to actually vote? You know why? Because it’s the law over there, and you get punished if you don’t. I suppose they have vast jails for the 3 percent that don’t vote. Every day they take those prisoners out to a big ballot box at the center of the prison yard and they’re made to fulfill their civil duty – and then they’re made to push the ballot box up a hill only to watch it roll downhill. But I’m digressing.
In Israel they have a cute commercial where a cop revokes your whining license for 4 years if you fail to vote. Take a look, it’s in Hebrew, but totally self explanatory:
OK, back to the obligatory stuff: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife, Supervising Prime Minister Sara Netanyahu, and their two sons showed up early at their local poll in the affluent neighborhood of Rehavia, Jerusalem.
My friend M. who lives right next door to the Netanyahus, passes by their house a lot, and whenever the security gorillas order her to stop to let the PM’s limo pull in or out of the driveway, she tells them: I am a citizen, he is my servant, I go first.
The Netanyahus’ sons, Yair and Avner, voted today for the first time. What I wouldn’t give to see who they voted for. My bet is on uncle Naftali (Bennett).
In the small communities, the polls will close at 8 PM. In larger enclaves the polls will close at 10 PM. Then we here at the Jewish Press will be playing our magic fingers furiously but with grace and insight, to let you know in real time what they’re saying on television. We’ll make you feel right at home, it’s what we do.
More than 20,000 police officers, Border Police and volunteers have been deployed throughout the country to keep order.
It’s a national holiday here, folks. In shul this morning we even had a short argument over whether or not to say Tachnun (supplications), because it’s a state holiday and we’re radical religious Zionists. We ended up saying it. I’ll bet you it would have been different if election day fell on a Monday or a Thursday (longer supplication text).
Transportation services will operate normally, as will other essential services. At Ben Gurion Airport they’re expecting 21 000 passengers. MDA is on high alert. Don’t ask me why, I’m not writing this stuff, I’m just translating official press releases.
The counting of votes will begin immediately after the polls close. Poll committees, made up of representatives of all the lists, will count the votes and then deliver the sealed ballot boxes and all voting materials to regional committees, which in turn will transmit reports to the Central Election Committee in Jerusalem.
Committee Executive Director Orly Aades, estimates that we’ll start seeing the true results by about midnight. This is because the committee is using new technology which is “expected to catalyze the counting of the double envelopes” (those are Israel’s absentee ballots). Final results of the elections are expected towards Thursday morning.
Did you know in Israel prisoners are allowed to vote? I’m surprised there isn’t a party catering specifically to the gripes of prisoners – some 10,800 of them will be voting today, in 57 polls, 31 of which are mobile (are you thinking what I’m thinking – the great election day prison break caper?).
That’s it. Now the Yanovers are setting out to go and vote at the local middle school. It’s our first election since we got here and we’re terribly excited.
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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