As Israelis cast their ballots in national elections today, here is a brief summary of what happens election day and some facts and figures.
Election Day Schedule:
January 22, 2013
- 07:00 – Polls open
- 22:00 – Polls close
- 22:00 – All three television stations (1, 2, 10) announce results of their exit polls
- 22:00 – Manual counting of ballots begins
- 23:00 (approximate) – Initial results from first few polling stations are announced as polling stations report their vote counts to the Central Elections Committee (CEC) in Jerusalem. Counting continues all night long.
Jan 23, 2013
- 01:00 (approximate) – Sufficient results should be announced that may indicate how accurate exit polls are.
- 03:00 (approximate) – more than 60% of polls reporting, clearer picture of coalition options.
Unfortunately there is no way of knowing the specific time when the CEC will reach 99 percent of polls so that anybody can definitively say “here are the final results.” The official results are published by the CEC eight days after the election.
How voting works:
- Voters are automatically registered to vote at a polling station nearest their registered place of residence.
- Voters arrives at their polling station with valid photo ID. The list of voters is posted outside each polling station.
- Three scrutineers from different parties check the voters’ ID against the list of eligible voters.
- The voter is given an empty envelope and their name is crossed off the list by all three scrutineers.
- The voter goes behind a partition where nobody else can see them.
- Behind the partition is a box holding small paper ballots with the Hebrew letter symbols of the party and the party name spelled out. The ballots are approximately 5 cm by 10 cm.
- The voter chooses the ballot paper with the symbol of the party they want and places it in an envelope.
- The voter then walks out from behind the partition and places the envelope in the ballot box.
- When polls close at 10pm, the doors are locked, the seal broken on each ballot box, and votes are counted in the presence of the scrutineers and election officials from the CEC.
Facts and Figures:
- Election Day is a national holiday. All schools and non-essential businesses are closed.
- Population of Israel as of December, 2012 = 7.981 million (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics)
- 6.015 million Jewish (75.4% of the population)
- 1.648 million Arabs (20.6%)
- 0.319 million others (4.0%)
- Number of eligible voters = 5,656,705
- Number of polling stations = 10,133 (Knesset)
- Number of polling stations for people with disabilities = 1,555
- Number of polling stations in hospitals = 195
- Number of polling stations at diplomatic representations abroad = 96
- Number of polling stations in prisons and detention centers = 57
It is generally assumed given previous experience that sometime between 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. the CEC will have 99 percent of the polls and will release those results. There is no assigned time other than the release of the official results eight days later.
Opinion polls indicate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s list is expected to win the most seats. This means President Shimon Peres will likely ask Netanyahu to form a government. The election results will dictate how the coalition negotiations will likely commence, and which parties Netanyahu will negotiate with first in order to put together a 61+ seat majority in the 120-member Knesset, Israel’s parliament. However, the negotiations could take weeks.