Daily Israel Report

Voters Could Get Day Off for Local Elections

Lawmakers are calling for legislation that will turn Election Day for local contests into an official day off.
By David Lev
First Publish: 11/12/2013, 1:13 AM

Minister Saar
Minister Saar
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The poor turnout in recent municipal elections has led lawmakers to call for legislation that will turn Election Day for local contests into an official day off. If passed, the law would institute a day off every five years, when elections are held for mayors of cities and local authorities. Currently, the only election days that are official vacation days are those for national elections.

Municipal and local elections were held last week throughout Israel, and in many localities voting rates did not break the 20% mark – meaning that 80% of residents did not participate in the elections at all. On the assumption that voters who stay away from the poll do so because they are working during the day and too tired to wait at the polls to vote at night, Interior Minister Gideon Saar said he would sponsor legislation to institute such a day off.

If the law is approved, municipal election day will take on a character similar to Knesset election day, with businesses and offices largely closed, but stores, malls, restaurants and places of entertainment remaining open. Schools, which are under the jurisdiction of local authorities, would be closed.

Nationally, only 51% of Israelis voted in the last municipal elections. As mentioned, the voting rate was very low in many towns, while the rate was down by 10% compared to the last election.