Photo Credit: Kobi Richter/TPS
MK Ayelet Shaked casts her vote. March 2, 2020.

Israel’s citizens went to the ballots to vote for Israel’s 23rd Knesset and the country’s leadership for the next four years, on Monday, for the third time in a year’s time.

The 6,453,255 eligible voters will go to the 10,631 ballots across the country and cast their vote for one of the 30 parties running for the Knesset.

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Convicts can vote at 58 ballots in prisons, and patients can vote at 190 ballots posted in hospitals. Special ballots for patients infected with Coronavirus were placed at several locations around the country.

Israel’s police deployed 19,000 officers and security personnel to maintain the peace and ensure that the election day proceeds in a democratic fashion.

A party requires some 140,000 votes, about 3.25 percent of the votes which equals four seats in the Knesset, to pass the electoral threshold, and therefore the majority of the parties will not be voted into Israel’s parliament.

The main battle is between the right-wing bloc, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party, and between the center-left bloc, led by Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party.

Israel is voting for the third time after Netanyahu and Gantz each failed to form a government after the April and September elections.

After another exceptionally vicious campaign that focused primarily on the candidates rather than on the issues at hand, Israel is again holding its breath in anticipation of the exit polls, which are slated to be published at 10 PM local time.

It should be noted that the exit polls last elections in 2015 failed to predict the actual outcome of the elections, and one of the polls in April was way off the mark. September’s exit polls were fairly accurate.

The last polls published on Friday showed that Netanyahu and the right had a slight lead, but not enough votes to form a government without additional political maneuvering.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.