Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein asked the Nazareth Administrative Court on Tuesday to order a new municipal election in the northern city.
According to Weinstein, an investigation by the Interior Ministry, Prisons Service and Justice Ministry revealed that at least 11 ballots were cast in the Nazareth municipal election by individuals who were either under arrest or out of the country and thus could not have voted on election day, October 22.
Since the election was won by incumbent mayor Ramez Jaraisi over challenger Ali Salam by just nine votes out of tens of thousands of ballots cast, the handful of fraudulent ballots may have been enough to decide the vote, Weinstein argued.
The investigation followed complaints by Salam of fraudulent ballots.
“The election procedures,” Weinstein wrote to the court, “contained sufficient faults that the validity of the elections was meaningfully undermined, and the requirements for canceling the election results and conducting repeat elections are fulfilled.”
Salam responded to Weinstein’s letter on Tuesday, telling Army Radio that “everything would come out alright in the second round.”
Nazareth isn’t the only municipal election Weinstein is working to overturn. On Tuesday, the attorney general asked the High Court of Justice to reject an appeal against a lower court’s decision to overturn elections results in Beit Shemesh due to evidence of widespread fraud that helped return that city’s incumbent mayor, Moshe Abutbul.
Abutbul had appealed the court ruling to hold new elections to the High Court, arguing that at least 200 ID cards and other paraphernalia related to electoral fraud found by police did not signify systematic fraud, and in any case amounted to fewer ballots than the 956-vote margin of his victory.
Weinstein told the High Court he disagreed with Abutbul’s assessment, arguing that the scale of fraud already uncovered suggested a systematic effort that may have been large enough to affect the final result.
Abutbul, who represents the Haredi party Shas in the religiously divided town, won the hotly contested race against Eli Cohen, the candidate of more secular and modern Orthodox residents.