Date: 10/02/2009, 2:59 PM Author: Dikla Schneider
Today (Feb. 10), between 8:00 and 22:00, the soldiers of the IDF (Zahal) will be able to vote for whichever party they would like to see in the 18th Israeli parliament, and thus exert their influence on the future of the State. 720 military ballot boxes, each one manned with three soldiers in their compulsory service who are members of an election committee, were placed in various centers throughout the country. As opposed to civilian ballot boxes, every voting envelope includes a note with the soldier’s details to prevent double voting, since soldiers can vote in every military ballot box and also in their town of residence.
Soldiers do not need to show a civilian identification document and the voting certificate that was sent to him by mail prior to the elections; producing a soldier’s or officer’s ID card is sufficient. In classified and secret units, in which soldiers are forbidden to carry pieces of personnel identification, it will be possible to vote with the IDF (Zahal) identification card on which no name appears.
According to the law, the IDF (Zahal) is the only body that can open ballot boxes before the time designated by the state. In light of this law, the first ballot box was opened on Saturday night at the Lod Air Force base in order to permit soldiers leaving Israel in the framework of their job, to fulfill their democratic right. In addition, a few ballot boxes have been opened since the beginning of the week for units in isolated places and units that are expected to be carrying out military operations on the official election day.
After the closing of the ballot boxes, the soldiers’ votes will be transported to Jerusalem on Tuesday night (Feb. 10) and counted collectively. The civilian counting committee will check with the population registry that no double voting has occurred; the notes with the soldiers’ details will then immediately be disposed of in order to keep their votes anonymous.
Statistics from previous elections show that the voting behavior of IDF (Zahal) soldiers is similar to that of the civilian population; only about 62% exercise their right to vote. This number does not, however, include the soldiers who voted at civilian ballot boxes in their towns of residence; it can therefore be assumed that the participation of IDF (Zahal) soldiers in the elections is actually higher than that of the civilian population. “This is a tremendous operation that is organized throughout the country for all IDF (Zahal) soldiers,” explains Lt. Col. Armona Baruh, Deputy Officer of IDF (Zahal) elections. “We know that we are thoroughly prepared, and we hope that everything will go well.”