Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul
Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul Photo: Flash 90

The Jerusalem District Attorney's office filed an indictment in the Magistrates Court in the city against eight Beit Shemesh residence on charges of conspiracy to influence election results by using invalid votes.

According to the text of the indictment, the accused took part in systematic, intentional, organized, and institutionalized activities in which identity cards belonging to people who weren't going to vote were gathered.

These ID cards were then given to others who impersonated the real card holders and voted in their place. The eight defendants are thus accused of conspiracy to commit a crime, impersonation, voter fraud, and additional crimes.

The elections in question are the Beit Shemesh municipal elections held on the 22nd of October, 2013. Two candidates ran for Mayor: Moshe Abutbul, the haredi candidate, and Eli Cohen, who enjoyed the support of the secular and religious-Zionist sectors in the city.

The voter fraud involved gathering all the ID cards in one place so that the impersonators can pick up the cards, disguise themselves to look like the real card-carriers, and go vote instead of them. At least 150 ID cards together with hats, glasses, and other disguise paraphernalia were found by police.

Stickers with the location of the voting box and its number were put on the ID cards so that the impersonators would know where to go.

The discovery of the fraud plan resulted in the disqualification of the election results and a new election being called.

Another election was held on the 11th of March, 2014. The result did not change, however, as haredi candidate Moshe Abutbul received the majority of votes once again and he was elected Mayor.

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