Daily Israel Report

IDF Begins to Vote; Sayeret Matkal Votes Monday

Soldiers from the elite unit in which both Binyamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett served will vote one day early.
By Arutz Sheva
First Publish: 1/20/2013, 10:17 PM

Preparing to vote at naval base
Preparing to vote at naval base
IDF Spokesman

While Israeli elections will officially open to the general public on Tuesday, the IDF has already begun to vote. The first polling booth in all of Israel was opened Saturday, at the Camp Rabin (Kirya) base in Tel Aviv. The IDF Website reports that dozens of officers and soldiers, who will be prevented from voting on Tuesday due to operational activity, have already voted there.

Early voting for the IDF is made possible by the law which permits special polling stations to open 72 hours earlier than the rest. Throughout Sunday and Monday, additional polling booths will be set up at IDF bases throughout the country.

Naval soldiers voted in Haifa and Ashdod Sunday, and soldiers from the elite Sayeret Matkal will vote tomorrow in the Judea and Samaria Division and in the Jordan Valley.

In total, 750 special IDF polling stations will be set up throughout the country, according to the official military website. Around 4,000 soldiers will be called on to operate the polling booths on Election Day; every booth will have a polling committee made up of regular service soldiers.

Soldier will cast their ballots in a "double envelope" system whereby the actual voting envelope is inserted into an additional envelope with the soldier's name and details, to ensure no soldier votes more than once. According to the voting procedure, soldiers are required to present their IDF, officers' or national ID card in order to vote. Soldiers serving in reserve duty will also be able to vote.

After the polling stations close, the soldiers' ballots will be transported to Jerusalem, where they will be centrally checked and counted. A civilian polling committee will check the envelopes against the population registry to ensure no double ballots, and immediately thereafter the slips with the soldiers' details will be destroyed in order to protect their anonymity.

Results from previous elections have shown that around 62 percent of soldiers have chosen to vote at military polling stations – a number roughly equivalent to that among the general population. However, the IDF Website notes that the statistics do not include soldiers who cast their ballots at civilian polling stations close to their homes, and adds that "thus it may be inferred that the proportion of soldiers choosing to vote is higher than that of the general population."