Likud Official: No Fraud in Miscount, Just Human Error

Likud campaign posters outside a polling station in Yerushalayim on primary day. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Menachem Ne’eman, a senior judge in the Likud’s election committee, said that while there may have been errors in the counting of votes in the party’s primary, there was no fraud. Speaking to Army Radio Tuesday, Ne’eman said that “there is a big difference between errors and fraud. Errors can be made without intent.”

In response to complaints of potential fraud, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday night called for a recount of the primary results, but Ne’eman said that the committee had determined that this was not necessary. “People who were in charge of the counting had to do a lot of work and do a lot of adding, subtracting, and moving of data. It was late at night, people were tired and they were busy. It’s easy to make mistakes. We are not recounting the votes, but we are rechecking the totals, to ensure that we have the correct results.”

A report on Hadashot News Sunday claimed that there were “significant inconsistencies” between the results of the balloting and the actual ballot record. For example, the report said, in the town of Mitzpe Yericho the Likud has 153 registered members, but MK Ofir Akunis got 229 votes there. In Bnei Brak, 334 Likud members voted, but Minister Miri Regev got 436 votes there. In Kiryat Malachi, party records show 516 members, but MK Yoav Galant got 780 votes there.

As a result, the Likud’s chief counsel, Shai Galili, demanded a formal recount of the results. In a letter to party officials, he said that he could “find no explanation for these radical inconsistencies between the ‘actual’ results and the numbers on record regarding the candidates. It’s possible the whole issue is a computer problem, but it’s also possible this was done on purpose.”

Ne’eman denied that there was any intentional miscounting. “There was no intervention in the results. The counting was done by completely objective people who had no reason to favor one candidate or another. There were errors, and we will fix them.”

Ne’eman said he had discussed the matter with Netanyahu, who had suggested various ideas on resolving the issue. “He did not sound worried,” Ne’eman said. “We don’t believe that the examination we are making will substantially change the results of the vote.”

A total of 67,719 people voted in the Likud primary, constituting a 58 percent turnout. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein was the biggest vote-getter, placing him second on the list behind Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He is followed by Minister Yisrael Katz, Minister Gilad Erdan, returning Likud member Gideon Sa’ar, and Miri Regev.