Elections 2009 / Parties File 68 Complaints of Election Day Misconduct

Parties complain other parties stole their ballot slips from polling stations, poll secretary allegedly tries to vote twice.

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Israel has never seen an elections day without complaints of ballot slips that disappeared from polling booths, political activists who try to influence the vote, and other mayhem. The parties participating in the 2009 elections have so far filed 68 misconduct complaints.

The Central Elections Committee announced Tuesday afternoon that several polling booths were contaminated with disqualified ballot slips, with the code for the left wing Meretz party on one side and the code for the right wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, headed by Avigdor Lieberman. The committee announced that the matter will be discussed.

Kadima activists said that the Zevulun police arrested Likud activists who stole bundles of Kadima ballot slips from polling stations in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Bialik. Kadima issued a complaint on the matter to the chairman of the elections committee, Justice Eliezer Rivlin. The party also complained of several incidents in which Kadima ballot slips were sabotaged or stolen in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Nes Tziona, Ofakim, Kiryat Yam and Ashdod.

Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish home) filed a complaint with the elections committee after an elderly couple from Givat Shmuel, who had planned to vote for the party, said that Shas activists had offered them a ride to the polling station, went into the polling booth with them and pressured them to vote for Shas. The woman succumbed to the alleged pressure and is now demanding an opportunity to vote again.

The Labor Party complained that Yisrael Beiteinu activists stole Labor ballot slips from polling stations in Acre, Nahariya and Carmiel and handed out candies in Nahariya. Justice Rivlin issued a letter calling on Yisrael Beiteinu activists to stop handing out campaign material inside polling stations.

Many complaints were also filed by Yisrael Beiteinu. They claimed that the party's ballot slips in short supply in many of the polling stations. On the other hand, Meretz complained that the party's ballot slips were counterfeit in one of Jerusalem's neighborhoods. One of the Meretz voters picked up a ballot slip only to find that Avigdor Lieberman's name had been printed on the back, disqualifying the vote. Meretz notified its activists across the country that they must inspect ballot slips in the voting booths to ensure that the incident did not recur.

The young people's party Tzabar complained that the there were no slips bearing the party code at a polling station in Haifa. Tzabar said that one of the party's activists noticed the absence of slips at 10 A.M., and the problem was remedied, but only three hours later.

The Green Party filed a similar complaint, saying that there were no Green Party slips at a polling station in Nes Tziona.

National Union complained that the party's ballot slips disappeared from dozens of polling stations in B'nei Brak. Party Chairman Ya'akov Katz said that "United Torah Judaism functionaries apparently panicked at the amount of Haredis we've pulled."

Habayit Hayehudi also complained that voters in B'nei Brak said that party ballot slips were missing, and that it looked as though it had been done maliciously.

The United Torah Judaism headquarters issued a statement saying that they attribute no importance to the allegations made by Katz and the National Union. "It looks to us like more spin," the statement said.

The Yisrael Hazaka (strong Israel) party headed by Efraim Sneh complained to the Acre elections committee that its ballot slips had disappeared from all the Yarka polling stations. The party believes the slips had been taken by a local organized crime family, which victimizes many of the local residents. The assumption is that the family feared that the residents, terrorized by organized crime, would vote for Sneh's party, whose platform emphasizes a tough battle against crime.

Several irregular incidents were also recorded during election day: a polling station secretary was detained after he allegedly tried to vote twice while his co-secretary took a break. A young ultra-Orthodox man overturned a table holding ballot slips in another town and took all the United Torah Judaism slips. At another station, a woman was detained for questioning after entering the polling station with counterfeit Yisrael Beiteinu slips, and said that someone she did not know had asked her to hand them out inside.

At the entrance to Jerusalem, a brawl broke out between Labor and Kadima activists, and police officers were summoned to calm the violence. A Labor activist was taken into custody.

Tzabar activists said that one of them was severely beaten by thugs while hanging posters at the central bus station, and required hospitalization.