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The Knesset Electoral System
Information Page from the Central Elections Committee for the 19th Knesset
|Section 4 of the Basic Law: The Knesset establishes that the Knesset will hold elections that are:|
||Every citizen of the State of Israel over the age of 18 years has the right to participate in elections;|
||For the purpose of calculating the results of the election, the entire country is considered a single electoral district;|
||Winners are determined directly according the results of the voting (and not indirectly, such as the system in the United States, where the president is elected by regional delegates to the Electoral College). In Israel, voters cast a ballot in favor of a list of candidates;|
||Every citizen has one vote. All voters are equal in their power to influence the outcome of the election;|
||No one but the voter knows how s/he cast his ballot. Secrecy is guaranteed in the following ways:|
- Voting booths that prevent the voter from being seen when choosing a ballot and placing it into the envelope.
- Sealed, lined envelopes that prevent anyone from seeing the ballot slip inside.
Note: Elections will take place on January 22, 2013 (11 Shevat, 5773)
The Right To Vote
Every Israeli citizen, who is also a resident of Israel and is at least 18 years old on Elections Day, and is registered in the Voters' Registry,
has the right to vote.
Every person who fulfills the following three conditions is eligible to be listed in the Voters' Registry:
- S/he is an Israeli citizen who received Israeli citizenship and was registered in the Civil Registry no later than November 29, 2012.
- His/her date of birth is no later than January 22, 1995.
- S/he was registered as a resident in Israel, and his/her name and address in Israel appear in the Civil Registry no later than November 29, 2012.
The Voters' Registry and polling stations will be publicized via the Internet at http://www.gov.il.
Details regarding the dates during which the Voters List will be available online can be found on the Central Elections Committee Website: http://www.bechirot.gov.il.
Where to Vote
- Every voter may vote at the polling station in which his/her name appears on its list.
On the day of the elections, and a few days before, the Central Elections Committee will maintain telephone information centers that also supply the
exact location of your polling station. Telephone numbers will be publicized in the press and on the Central Elections Committee Website: http://www.bechirot.gov.il.
The ambulatory disabled can vote in any one of the special polling stations designed for accessibility. At the polling station, the voter will declare his/her disability
in writing (if the disability is not obvious to the Polling Station Committee) and afterwards s/he will be able to vote at that station.
Addresses of these polling stations are available from the telephone information centers mentioned above and on the Central Elections Committee website.
Voting at these polling stations will utilize double envelopes.
Voting will be facilitated in polling stations for soldiers, in hospitals, in prisons and detention centers, and in Israeli diplomatic missions abroad.
Approximately three weeks prior to the elections a notice will be sent to each voter containing the exact address of the polling station at which he/she is registered. A map of polling stations may be viewed at: http://www.gov.il.
Elections day is considered an official holiday off of work, though public transportation will operate normally.
Most polling stations are open on elections day from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. In small communities where the number of voters is smaller than 350, and in
hospitals, prisons, and detention centers, the voting hours are from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm.
The doors of the polling stations will close at 10:00 pm (or 8:00 pm in the small communities). Those still waiting in line when the polling stations close will be permitted to vote.
It is emphasized that one who arrives after closing time will not be permitted to vote.
The Polling Station and the Voting Booth
The steps involved in voting are as follows:
- The voter identifies himself to the polling committee with one of the documents listed above.
- Once the voter’s name is located on the voters list, the voter then receives a light blue envelope with the words “Elections for the 19th Knesset” appearing on it. The envelopes are sealed and darkened inside, and have the stamp of the Central Elections Committee, the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, and the signatures of two members of the polling committee.
- The voter enters the voting booth. S/he goes into the booth alone – and any other person is forbidden to go inside with him/her. The exception to this rule is an illness or disability which renders the voter incapable of performing the action of voting by him/herself. In this case, the voter is allowed to have someone accompany him/her to do the actual voting. The accompanying person is not allowed to be the director or an employee of a home or institution where the voter resides, and may not accompany more than two voters.
- Inside the booth is a display of voting slips for each candidate list. There are also blank white slips.
Knesset Ballots for Every List of Candidates
Voters cast their ballots for a list of candidates only.
Each candidate list is represented on a ballot by an initial or initials as well as by the name of the list. The names of the candidate lists and their corresponding initials are publicized in the press and on the Central Elections Committee website.
The voting process is as follows:
Only one ballot may be placed into the envelope. An envelope that contains 2 slips for the same list will not be invalidated though only one vote will be counted. However, an envelope that contains more than 2 identical slips or 2 or more slips from different lists – that entire envelope will be invalidated.
- The voter selects a slip, one slip only, for the list of candidates he/she wishes to vote for, and places it into the envelope. The voter must seal the envelope. One may also use a blank slip, located next to the printed ballots. In such a case, the voter must indicate on the slip, in his/her own writing (in Hebrew or Arabic only) the name and initials of the list for which s/he is casting a vote.
- The voter then exits the booth, sealed envelope in hand, and by his/her own hand places the closed envelope into the ballot box, in view of members of the polling committee.
- The voter must obey any further instructions on the part of election officials in order to ensure order and safety.
- Each list of candidates that receives at least 2% of the legitimate votes participates in the distribution of mandates.
- The total number of legitimate votes for all lists that participate in the distribution of mandates is divided by 120, and the resulting number is called the “index.”
- Each list of candidates receives Knesset seats according to the total number of votes received divided by the “index.”
- The remaining votes then get divided and distributed according to the law.