Glitch Won't Keep Oldest Laborite From Casting Ballot

Yisrael Hofesh, Labor's oldest voter at 103, tried voting three times yesterday in the Labor Party primary, before the computerized voting system accepted his vote. In the end he got up, aided by his caregiver, took back his ID card and went back to his room on Kibbutz Afikim.

Two hours later, when it was announced that yesterday's party primary was being canceled and a new vote would be held, Hofesh stated with frustration, "It's a shame, it involved a big effort on my part."

In 1930, Hofesh attended the founding assembly of Mapai, the Workers Party of the Land of Israel, the predecessor of today's Labor party. He has remained faithful to the party ever since.

He does not remember any other problems like the one that occurred yesterday, but nevertheless, as opposed to many other voters who wasted a lot of time in failed attempts to vote, Hofesh had no criticism.

Other voters from Afikim were not so generous, and called the affair a failure. "We have been waiting for an hour and a half, that is too much," said one. Many others left the polling station without casting a ballot.

At the polling place on neighboring Kibbutz Deganya Alef, one older member arrived on her bicycle for her third attempt to vote.

"The problem is still not fixed," the embarrassed electoral supervisors told her. "See you in another four years," she told them angrily.

Her situation was relatively good, as there were many spent at least half an hour traveling from their kibbutzim to Deganya Alef.

There was already a great deal of anger on the kibbutzim, as the number of kibbutz polling places had been cut to 60. Shlomo Glazer, the party's kibbutz sector spokesman, said fewer people would turn out to vote because of the longer distances. "It is difficult to understand this move. People want to be party members and pay their dues, and then they get the feeling the party is saying to them, 'Thank you, but we don't need you.'"

Hofesh, however, did not agree. "It is trendy to besmirch and be depressing... Instead of gathering strength and energy, they are silent."

During the day, Hofesh reads with the help of the library for the blind and edits pamphlets produced by the Afikim archives. He is now editing a lexicon of Afikim terms. Despite his work and all the effort it took to leave home and vote, Hofesh never even considered skipping it. He called anyone who doesn't vote irresponsible, saying afterward, "They all know how to criticize, but forget that it depends on every one of us."

Outside the polling station, a few people stood around discussing the party's situation and fondly remembering wilder election days in the past.

Later on in the day, the computer system completely collapsed, and the elections were canceled. One elderly member did not hear the news and at 2 P.M. he was turned away empty-handed by the election committee supervisors, who were still there waiting to be picked up.

Hofesh, for his part, despite his disappointment over his wasted vote, firmly declared: "There is no choice, next week I will come and vote again."