IDF Soldiers Cast Early Votes

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Israeli soldier casts an early vote at an army base near the Arab town of Kafr Qara, central Israel, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Early voting in the March 23 elections was held for Israeli soldiers on military bases across the country on Wednesday.

Some 335 ballot boxes were made available to soldiers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Soldiers who chose to vote early could only do so Wednesday.

Most troops will cast their votes on election day with the rest of the country, but early voting is encouraged to help speed up ballot-counting, as military personnel use the “double envelope” system for absentee votes that ensures their anonymity but is more time-consuming to count, The Times of Israel explained.

Israeli diplomats at missions overseas began filing their ballots last week, with the ambassador to New Zealand casting the first vote.

Election day will see an expanded polling operation conducted by the Central Elections Committee (CEC), which plans to open thousands of extra voting stations and to deploy special shuttles to polling stations for active COVID-19 patients. CEC director Orly Adas also told reporters that dozens of buses will be converted into ballot stations for people in quarantine and to lower crowding in certain polling stations.

Adas said the count itself will be challenging, considering that the number of absentee ballots is expected to be double the normal amount, and the Pesach festival starts three days after the election. Nevertheless, she said the goal is to complete the tally within two days.