The low dematerialization of the ballot in Israel contributes (precisely) to its security

Nearly 6.8 million Israelis will be able to vote in the November 1 ballot to elect Israel’s 25th Knesset.

Who ensures the counting of the ballots slipped into the ballot boxes of the approximately 11,707 polling stations in the country, and how do the electoral authorities guarantee the integrity of the vote and the counting?

Last Thursday, President Isaac Herzog launched an appeal to all political parties asking them to accept, without challenging them, the results of the upcoming elections.

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His appeal on Sunday was doubled by that of Prime Minister Yair Lapid, entrusting his fears unless his political rivals in Likud cast doubt on the future results.

Likud categorically refuted and said it would respect the “voters’ decision”.

Orly Adas, director general of the Central Election Commission (CEC), responsible for the organization of the ballot and its integrity, explained on Wednesday that the very nature of the Israeli electoral system was conducive to close monitoring of operations.

She said she was confident of the free and fair nature of the next election.

The polling stations, Adas explained to journalists gathered at the Knesset, are placed under the surveillance of key people responsible for ensuring the integrity and neutrality of the operations.

The secretary of the polling station – an employee of the CEC – is at the head of a committee made up of three assessors, affiliated to the political parties in the running, and an inspector commissioned and remunerated by the State. Outside the post, a police officer provides access security.

Political party-affiliated assessors – representing the 13 parties in the outgoing Knesset – are put in place by the CEC, which is careful never to assign more than one member of the same party to the same polling station.

These assessors, who check each other mutually, are intended to detect and avoid fraud and embezzlement.

The inspector commissioned by the CEC meanwhile, present at all times in the polling station and particularly during the counting operations, is authorized to film under conditions, the main one being the protection of the privacy of voters.

The inspector is the only person authorized to film inside the polling station, Adas and the CEC reminded after Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements in favor of the presence of inspectors armed with cameras to supervise the counting.

Raam leader MK Mansour Abbas casts his vote during Israel’s parliamentary elections at a polling station in Maghar, Israel, March 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

In a Twitter chat last week, Netanyahu said that Likud would send supervisors to “film the count… This time there will be evidence of the count. »

A party spokesperson later said Likud would abide by the law.

“The authorization to film inside a polling station can only be given by the president of the CEC”, recalled Adas, in response to questions from journalists on the possibility for the parties to film the operations of counting.

On polling night, when the offices close, the counting is carried out on site by the same team.

It is a long and arduous process, consisting of the members of the state-funded political committee opening the ballots together, one by one, each keeping a count of the votes which they then attribute to the different parties.

The ballots are then collected in bags and transported to the Knesset, for the recording of the results.

The risk of double voting is limited by the use of simple methods, including the allocation of a polling station to each voter. Voters who have to vote in an office different from their office to which they are attached deposit a ballot paper in a double envelope and their name can be checked on the list of their official office, in order to ensure that they do not vote twice.

Workers prepare ballot boxes for Israel’s upcoming elections, at the Central Elections Committee warehouse in Shoham, before they are shipped to polling stations, October 12, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Adas regretted that some “attempted” to vote twice.

“It constitutes a criminal offence. Each of these envelopes is traced”.

She did not, however, specify how the ballots of a voter who voted twice would be discarded.

On the broader topic of voter fraud, Adas said the paper voting system — which challenged more than one in the Start up Nation — contributed to the integrity of the ballot.

“When voting and counting are done by hand,” it is impossible to carry out massive fraud, she explained.

According to Adas, the CEC’s budget for the next poll is 538 million shekels and around 2.2 billion cumulative for the last five polls since the end of 2018.

This figure does not include the additional costs incurred, such as those related to the neutralization of polling day, which is officially a holiday.

This sizeable budget guarantees the integrity of what Adas called “the most important civilian operation in the life of the State of Israel”, an operation that will allow the electorate to decide whether or not it will be repeated. soon.

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The low dematerialization of the ballot in Israel contributes (precisely) to its security