With the number of voters who choose not to go to the polls expected to be greater than ever, the government has embarked on several campaigns to persuade Israelis to participate in the election. An ad campaign called “70% Vote” aims to bring that percentage of Israeli voters to the polls. But the campaign has an added benefit for voters: Anyone who shows a photo of themselves at their polling station gets a 30% discount (paying only 70% of the price) on items at participating stores.
The campaign states that “in recent years there has been a significant reduction in the percentage of Israelis who vote for the Knesset. The essence of a democracy is effective participation in choosing leaders. A low turnout makes it harder for elected leaders to make decisions and lead significant change for voters.”
But the campaign has serious competition. Over the last few weeks, travel agencies have offered packages with significant discounts for travel within Israel and abroad. According to estimates, over 75,000 Israelis will be traveling on Election Day. Election officials over the past week have criticized the travel industry, which in recent days has begun stressing deals that commence on Tuesday afternoon – ostensibly giving people an opportunity to vote in the morning. One agency is offering a $100 discount on packages for customers who present photos of themselves at the polls. Altogether, some 1.2 million Israelis – two thirds of whom are eligible voters – will be out of the country on Election Day.
Election Day is an official day off, the second one this year, and it’s an expensive proposition; April’s Election Day cost the economy some NIS 2.5 billion in productivity losses, according to government estimates, and a similar loss is expected this Tuesday. That does not include the cost for free public transportation on the day, and anyone can get on a bus or train for free that day. Travelers who want to go to Eilat for free need to register in advance and produce proof of residency.
As an official day off most offices, banks, government institutions, and factories are closed – but stores and malls will be open. The law requires businesses operating on Election Day to pay workers double their salary, and to provide them with two paid hours off so they can go and vote.
In April, 4,340,253 Israelis voted, 68.5% of the eligible total. That number was lower than the percentage that voted in the 2015 elections, which saw a 72.3% turnout – but it was higher than for the elections in 2005, 2009, and 2013. With that, voting totals are expected to be lower this time, because of the fact that this is the second election within just a few months, experts believe.