Voter turnout up amid rise in Arab turnout

Increased voter turnout reported in Arab sector, as overall turnout defies predictions of decrease following April election.

David Rosenberg ,

Voting slips
Voting slips
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Voter turnout in Israel was up significantly Tuesday morning in comparison with turnout levels at the same stage in previous elections.

As of 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, five hours after the first polling places opened, the Central Elections Committee reported that the turnout level had reached 26.8%, with 1,713,936 votes having been cast before noon.

That represents a 2.0% increase over the turnout level by 12:00 p.m. in the April election, when 24.8% of eligible voters had cast ballots.

The turnout thus far Tuesday is close to the level reached by noon in the 2015 election (26.9%), and slightly above the level reached in 2013 (26.7%). By noon on election day in 2009, the turnout level had reached 23.4%, while in 2006 it hit 21.7%, 24% in 2003, 21.2% in 2001, and 28.9% in 1999.

By 10:00 a.m. Tuesday – three hours after voting began – the Central Elections Committee reported that 956,856 voters had cast their ballots, translating into a turnout rate of 15% thus far.

By comparison, in April 2019, as of 10:00 a.m. on election day, just 12.9% of eligible voters, or 817,270 people, had cast ballots. By the end of election day in April, the turnout level had risen to nearly 68.5%.

In the 2015 election, when the final turnout level reached 72.4%, the turnout rate as of 10:00 a.m. was 14.3%. The turnout level by 10:00 a.m. was just 11.4% in 2013, 10.3% in 2009, 9.9% in 2006, 10.1% in 2003, 11.1% in 2001, 14.2% in 1999, 14.3% in 1996, 14.0% in 1992, and 14.8% in 1988.

The last time the turnout level prior to 10:00 a.m. surpassed 15% was in 1984, when it hit 15.6%. That election, total voter turnout hit 78.8%.

Tuesday’s relatively high level of overall voter turnout was fueled at least in part by unusually high levels of voting in Israel’s Arab sector, Channel 13 reported.

“Surprisingly high levels of turnout in the Arab sector,” said Channel 13’s Eli Levi while reporting from the Israeli-Arab town of Kfar Manda in the Galilee. “Long lines at the voting stations since the early morning, and a high level of interest I haven’t seen in many years.”

The predominantly Arab Joint List party, however, downplayed the increased turnout in the Arab sector, calling it a “marginal increase” over the level recorded in the April election. The Joint List statement emphasized that the turnout level in the Arab sector remains below the overall level.