Police arrest teen suspected of asking friend to vote on his behalf
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Police arrest teen suspected of asking friend to vote on his behalf

Suspect’s mother says her son was stuck at home babysitting so he gave his identity card to someone else, who was then arrested trying to use it at a polling station

An Israeli man casts his ballot during Israel's parliamentary elections at a polling station in Rosh Haayin, on September 17, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)
An Israeli man casts his ballot during Israel's parliamentary elections at a polling station in Rosh Haayin, on September 17, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Police overnight Wednesday arrested a young man suspected of handing over his identification card to another teenager to vote on his behalf in the Knesset elections earlier this week.

The teenager who tried to use the card at a Jerusalem polling station on Tuesday, was discovered on the spot and arrested, leading to an investigation of the incident, the Israel Police said in a statement.

“Overnight police arrested a 19-year-old suspect who handed over his identification card to be used during the process of elections for the Knesset,” police said.

As officers entered the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem to detain the card’s owner, they were pelted with various objects by protesters who tried to prevent the arrest, the Kikar Hashabbat website reported.

Several protesters were detained for questioning, all of them students from the same yeshiva. Some were suspected of possibly assisting in voter fraud, according to the website, which serves the ultra-Orthodox community.

The suspect’s mother said that her son had asked someone else to vote on his behalf because he was home alone babysitting his brother, 12, while she was at a wedding out of town.

The mother said she was seeking an attorney to defend her son, Kikar reported.

“The Israel Police opened an investigation on the day of the election following the arrest of a 17-year-old who during the elections allegedly arrived at a polling station in the center of Jerusalem with the intention of voting, and identified himself using an identity card that is not his,” the police statement said.

“Following a swift investigation, the owner of the identity card was located and overnight officers arrived at his home,” it said. “He was arrested and taken for questioning.”

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Ahead of the September 17 vote, MK Avigdor Liberman, who leads the secular Yisrael Beytenu party, accused ultra-Orthodox communities of voter fraud, saying “in [the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood] Mea Shearim there is 120% voter turnout.

“People are rising from the dead in order to vote,” Liberman said, repeating a long-reported rumor regarding a voter fraud tactic in ultra-Orthodox communities without providing specific proof.

There were several other disruptions reported during Tuesday’s voting, Central Elections Committee director Orly Adas said at the time, many of them related to illicit filming at polling stations.

In the morning, a station in the northern Arab city of Umm al-Fahm was briefly shuttered after an observer began filming voters in an apparent violation of the law. He was escorted from the site but due to the gathering of a large crowd outside police closed the station, which later reopened.

In the afternoon, police shut down three polling places in the Druze village of Yarka in northern Israel out of concern for election fraud. Due to the three polling stations being closed for a significant period of time, the Central Election Committee made the decision to extend voting there until midnight instead of 10 p.m.

In the Bedouin city of Rahat, police said they had detained a man suspected of trying to insert several voting envelopes into the ballot box.

The Central Elections Committee deployed 3,000 observers Tuesday to ensure voting proceeded legally and without disturbances. Some 20,000 police officers had also been deployed to polling stations.

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