Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn seemed set to secure his position against competitor MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union), after some 40% of votes for the chairmanship of Israel’s largest union were counted, indicating Nissenkorn had a significant lead.
The vote had been marred by allegations of wrongdoing. On Wednesday night, the Tel Aviv District Court had ordered an immediate halt of the counting of votes after Yacimovich claimed the balloting was marred by “systematic fraud.”
The counting renewed after a hearing on Thursday, during which Judge Eitan Orenstein reviewed the evidence and offered that the sides compromise by letting the vote count resume.
Nissenkorn’s campaign headquarters said they regret that “Yacimovich has not accepted her defeat and continues with her campaign of whining and slander.” It noted that the turnout had been the highest since the 1995 union elections.
The election was held on Tuesday. Voting was conducted in two types of polling places: Workplaces with large numbers of Histadrut members, and regional polling stations in residential areas around the country.
Yacimovich’s petition to the court stated that the election was “systematically stolen and forged, intentionally and massively.” Her campaign headquarters said trucks bringing ballot boxes from Haifa and Hadera to the logistical vote counting center arrived only in the late morning the next day, after wandering around all night accompanied only by Nissenkorn’s people; and over 500 ballot boxes were found that are suspected as being fraudulent. In addition, Yacimovich’s staff were violently expelled from the election supervision committees in polling places, and union leaders entered the voting booths with their members, or placed sealed envelopes with ballots in their hands, said her campaign headquarters.
Nissenkorn’s campaign staff said Yacimovich’s claims of fraud were baseless, charging that she has refused to accept the voters’ will and that they were certain any attempts to void the votes of hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees would fail.
The final result may be known only on Sunday, due to the delay ordered by the court, and also because of changes in the way the votes are being counted.
In previous Histadrut elections, the votes were tallied at the individual polling stations, but because of claims by Yacimovich’s campaign that such a system was open to fraud, all the ballots were transported to one central location at the Tel Aviv Convention Center and being counted there.
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