Israeli leaders now have another factor to consider as they deliberate whether to disperse the Knesset and call new elections: in additional to the massive cost of a fourth election in two years, the voting may have to be spread over several days due to coronavirus concerns.
Central Elections Committee director Orly Ades informed the Knesset State Control Committee on Tuesday that the ever-changing pandemic situation is being carefully monitored by the CEC, and that the country may see a polling process like none before it.
“We’re following the pandemic data and how they’re changing week to week, and we will be prepared for the possibility that ahead of election day there will be many quarantined and sick,” she said, according to Ynet. “We are talking about significant issues — whether there will be a need for one day of voting or more.”
Ades said her committee was “working on plans for ‘vote and drive’ compounds for coronavirus patients and quarantined [individuals],” as well as considering placing ballot boxes in nursing homes where residents are at high risk.
“We’re working on a voting station… where patients won’t be in proximity to other people,” she added.
In last March’s voting, during the first wave of infections, 16 special polling stations across the country were set up for the more than 5,000 people who were under home quarantine after returning from trips abroad. The system was reported to have worked well.
Ades also said that the current number of election committee workers — 50,000 — would have to swell considerably in order to accommodate the special requirements of an election day in the midst of the pandemic.
During the Knesset session, a Health Ministry representative urged that procedures be adopted to keep those who are sick or in quarantine from venturing out, according to a Knesset spokesperson.
However, Ades rejected that as “not realistic.” “There’s no time for overturning our voting model,” she said.
Israel has only a small amount of absentee voting, limited to diplomats abroad, soldiers stationed away from home and those hospitalized.
Committee chairman Ofer Shelach (Yesh Atid) argued that the law should be changed to eliminate the need for travel to one’s place of residence listed on their ID cards in order to vote, by allowing them to designate a second place of residence.