Ballots for 2015 elections
Ballots for 2015 elections Isaac Harari/Flash90

Israel heads to the polls Tuesday morning, as polling stations open nationwide at 7:00 am for the 20th Knesset elections. 

5,883,365 Israeli citizens can cast their vote between 7:00 am to 10:00 pm Tuesday, in 10,372 polling stations nationwide for parties which will comprise the 20th Israeli Knesset.

Polling stations in small communities (population under 300) will open at 8:00 am. 

Arutz Sheva will be holding a live broadcasting this evening from Jerusalem as the polls close, from 21:30 - 01:00 Israel-time, with all the latest election updates and analysis.

Voting: how does it work?

To vote, each citizen visits a local polling station and presents a form of ID (blue identity card, passport, or driver's license) to volunteers sitting at a table in front of the voting booth. In return, the volunteers give the voter a blue envelope for their vote. 

Voters then vote behind a blue screen in the same room; in front of each screen is a ballot box (as pictured) with slips of paper with each party's initials for each party running in the Knesset elections. An explanatory chart is available explaining which party is signified by which set of initials. 

Voters choose the slip of their party of choice, place this slip in the envelope, then deposit the vote in a large blue box in the center of the room in front of the volunteers; their ID card is then returned to them. 

Israel's electoral system is proportional representation. This means that each vote counts toward a party's total number of Knesset seats (out of a total of 120); if a party receives 20% of the vote, it will receive 20% of seats, and so on.

Given that in such a system no party is likely to receive a majority of seats on its own, the next prime minister will be the party leader in the best position to form a coalition government, based on the total number of seats for each bloc. Usually - but not always - this is the head of the largest party.

Elections day

Public transportation will operate as normal throughout election day; voters who live more than 20 kilometers from their polling stations are eligible for reimbursement from the State of Israel for their travel to the polls; the ticket for the bus or train can be submitted to local Post Office branches with presentation of an Israeli ID card.

Elections day is a public holiday in Israel, and many Israelis are expected to take advantage of the vacation day and visit Israel's parks, beaches, and malls. 

Police have raised the national alert level, and thousands of officers and Border Police officers have been deployed nationwide to prevent friction at voting centers and keep public calm. Police remind all citizens to call the 100 hotline in the event of an emergency. 

Where are party leaders voting?

  • Prime Minister and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu will vote in a Rehavia, Jerusalem school at 7:00 am; 
  • Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, at the Raanana Performing Arts Center, at 7:15 am; 
  • Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon, an elementary school in Haifa, 7:15 am;
  • Shas leader Aryeh Deri, at a Beit Yaakov school in Jerusalem at 7:30 am;
  • Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, an elementary school in Ramat Aviv, at 8:15 am;
  • Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, the Nokdim community library, 8:30 am;
  • United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman, Yaakov Litzman, a Beit Yaakov school on Ezrat HaTorah st. in Jerusalem, 8:30 am;
  • Yachad-Ha'am Itanu leader Eli Yishai, Beit Yaakov school on Even Danan st. in Jerusalem, 8:30 am;
  • Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog, at the Tzahala school in Tel Aviv between 8:00 am and 8:45 am;
  • Meretz chairman Zehava Gal-On, the Hadar school in Petah Tikva, 10:00 am;
  • Arab list chairman Ayman Odeh, in the Ahmediah school in Haifa at 10:30 am.

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