Only one of the more than a hundred polling stations the Likud complained about was found to warrant a criminal investigation. The police have so far investigated suspicion of fraud in six polling stations from the April election which it received from the Central Elections Committee. In two of these there was suspected fraud favoring Shas and the Likud. (For the latest election polls – click here)
A source involved in investigation of such fraud told Haaretz that there has been no evidence in any polling station of fraudulent activity favoring Arab parties. However, this has not yet been officially confirmed. These findings come on the backdrop of Likud claims that the last election was “stolen” due to fraudulent activity in Arab communities.
Haaretz Weekly Ep. 39
In addition to the ballot boxes from the six polling stations delivered to the police by the Central Elections Committee, boxes from 24 other stations were transferred to the police due to technical irregularities, but not suspicion of fraud. Of the original six, at least one station was found to have no irregularities; while two others raised suspicion of fraud, one in favor of Likud, the other in favor of Shas.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a government meeting in order to advance a bill which would allow installing cameras in polling stations. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to attend and voice his opposition - as he did last week - saying it could lead to chaos on Election Day and does not withstand legal scrutiny.
According to a senior law enforcement official, there were serious irregularities, but only isolated cases of actual fraud. The police are expected to submit a final report on the matter to the Elections Committee in the coming days, with a recommendation to indict a member of at least one polling station committee for fraud.
Most of the Likud reports about irregularities were transferred to the police, after a party representative complained that he had been removed from the polling station after bringing in a camera. He claimed that this may have led to the fraud in many polling stations. In fact, only in one case were there suspicions that warranted a criminal investigation.
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In an interview with Channel 13 TV on Saturday night, Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin quoted totally different numbers. “The suspicions are, according to the Central Elections Committee, that there are over 100 polling stations that are heavily suspected of irregularities. One can’t understand how the left, which always talks of transparency and integrity, suddenly opposes a transparent process. No one thought that it was impossible to bring in cameras. Do you know where there was fraud? In places where they removed our cameras.”
In recent days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned of the danger that the election will be “stolen.” In a video aired before the committee prohibited the installation of cameras at polling stations, he said: “We know there is widespread fraud. It’s something we have to prevent.” He said that cameras in the hands of party representatives are the only way to prevent “stealing the election.”
Netanyahu also claimed that if this fraud had been preempted in April, the Arab party Balad would not have passed the electoral threshold and the right-wing bloc would have had the 61 Knesset votes required to form a government. However, examination of this claim showed that it was groundless speculation.
Other Likud ministers have also continued to claim that the previous election was “stolen.” “What is regrettably happening in the Arab sector is a phenomenon I didn’t encounter before, not believing it existed,” said Immigration Minister Yoav Galant on Kan Bet radio on Friday. “Overall, there is no fraud in ballot boxes in Jewish communities. I’m not saying there are no problems here and there, but no fraud.”
Netanyahu denied a claim by Haaretz that Likud placed cameras only in Arab communities during the previous election, even though the PR company that installed the cameras, Kaizler Inbar, has boasted that it placed the cameras in Arab polling stations and, in so doing, managed to lower the turnout among Arab voters.