How to cast your vote, the second time around
Voting guideWhat to expect in the polling station

How to cast your vote, the second time around

Simple instructions for the first-time voter, and a refresher for the rest of us

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Voting slips at the Central Elections Committee warehouse in Shoham on March 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Voting slips at the Central Elections Committee warehouse in Shoham on March 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Election day can be confusing, especially if you haven’t voted in an Israeli election in the past, and even if you have… just five months ago.

The logistics of an Israeli election are different from those of Anglophone countries, from which a large number of our readers hail. If you are one of Israel’s 6,394,030 eligible voters (all eligible voters are automatically registered), here are some tips to make sure your vote is properly cast — and properly counted. Again.

There are 10,543 polling stations throughout the country. You can only vote at the station to which you are assigned. This is a measure targeting voting fraud, and it is strictly enforced. You should have received a little note by mail from the Central Elections Committee notifying you which booth is yours, and where it is located. (Note: There are multiple polling booths in many ballot stations; make sure to go to the booth labeled with the number you received, or they won’t have you listed as an eligible voter.)

If you failed to receive your note, or have lost it, fear not. You don’t need the note to vote, and you can find the number and location of your assigned booth here. Just type in your ID (te’udat zehut) number, copy the string of letters to prove you are human, and the site will give you your polling booth’s number and address. Alternatively, you can call a free special English language hotline set up by the Central Elections Committee on 1800-201-096.

When you go to vote, you must bring with you one of the following three forms of state identification. Other identification documents, no matter how official their source, will not be accepted:

A stack of Israeli identification cards, January 22, 2008. (photo credit: Anna Kaplan/ Flash90)
A stack of Israeli identification cards, January 22, 2008. (photo credit: Anna Kaplan/Flash90)

1. An Israeli driver’s license with a photo.

2. An Israeli ID card (te’udat zehut).

3. An Israeli passport with a photo.

Do not bring weapons, handbags or packages to the polling station. You may have to leave them outside to vote.

Once in, the method for voting is simple. The staff at the polling station will hand you an empty envelope. Inside the booth, you’ll find stacks of slips with each party’s letter-based symbol and name in Hebrew. If Hebrew is not your strong suit, familiarize yourself with your party’s symbol beforehand, or write it down and bring the note with you into the booth.

Take the ticket of your preferred party, place it in the envelope, making sure there is only one slip in the envelope. Multiple slips, even from the same party, will disqualify your vote.

Notes with the names of the different political parties running for the 20th parliament in the Israeli general elections, seen at a polling station in Jerusalem on March 17, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

This last instruction may sound obvious, but there are currently fake campaign posters being spread on Israeli social media sites urging voters from certain political camps to prefer “unity” over “division” by placing two parties from that side of the aisle into their envelopes. Whether the posters are intended as a joke or whether they’re a dishonest effort to lead voters from that camp to unknowingly disqualify their votes is beside the point. Just make sure you don’t make that mistake.

One last note: There are blank tickets among the stacks in the booth. These are not write-in ballots for parties or candidates who are not otherwise registered to run. They are there only in the case that the slips for the party of your choice run out. If you don’t see any of your party’s slips left, write the symbol of your party in legible script on the blank ticket and place it in your envelope. Spoiling your ballot is of course allowed, but alas, it won’t show up in any final tally.

Finally, make sure to tell everyone you know that you voted, and that they should too. Vote for the party you like or, if you like no one, vote for the one most diametrically opposed to the party you most dislike. Either way, vote. Again.

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