Labor's leadership vote was clouded yesterday by complaints about disorder and sabotage attempts at the primary elections. The candidates' complaints included text messages being sent to dozens of voters, saying they were not registered in the voters' book; inviting one candidate's senior campaign staff to a fictitious "emergency meeting;" and locking a polling station for an hour, after kicking out one of the candidates' representatives, possibly to forge votes.
Activists in Amir Peretz's campaign reported an attempt to get 150 staff members away from the polls in the critical evening hours, when they were most needed to bring as many voters as possible to the polling stations.
Senior staff members received anonymous calls instructing them to go to an emergency meeting that Peretz was holding at 6 P.M.
"It was probably one of the candidates trying to get our people out of the way at the critical hours," a Peretz activist said. "You have to be naive to think activists would leave the stations at the instruction of an unidentified person."
Peretz's campaign headquarters were flooded by calls, apparently intended to block the lines and prevent activists from calling potential voters.
"Suddenly from 2 P.M. we were inundated by calls, all of them 'wrong numbers.' One asked if he had reached Neve Tirza [prison], hung up, then called again and asked if it was Shalvata [a mental health hospital]," the activist said.
MK Isaac Herzog's campaign staff filed two official complaints to Labor's authorities. The first was about anonymous text messages sent to dozens of his supporters, saying "You were found not to be a party member and are not entitled to vote in the elections."
Shelly Yachimovich's campaign staff complained to the police about a suspected election forgery in the village of Abu Karinat.
The polling station committee members told Yachimovich's representative to "take a break." When he refused, he was taken out forcefully. The committee members locked the door, remaining in the unsupervised polling station for a whole hour. During this time, the ballot box was allegedly stuffed with dozens of fictitious ballots.
Herzog demanded to disqualify polling booth No.480 in Beit Jan, after the station committee member decided to take the ballot box out of the station.
"All the candidates' representatives had trouble in the Beit Jan polling station, which is run by Amir Peretz's people, including the station chairman. They did whatever they felt like there and even attacked representatives of Herzog's," a Herzog campaign activist said.
"The worst was when the chairman, flouting election regulations, took the polling box outside. When Herzog's representatives protested, they were attacked," he said.
Party officials dismissed complaints of disorder, saying the ballot box was taken out to enable a disabled voter to cast his ballot, as the polling station was inaccessible to disabled persons.
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