A Warm and Balmy Election Day
What a day! Blue skies, sunny, 70+degrees (F) and a mild breeze. I would almost want to dub today balmy… And many families in the town of Ra’a’nana where I live and vote, could be seen leisurely walking together to and from the voting polls and to shopping and cafés. In contrast to the weekly Friday mad dash to get everything done before Shabbat, there was a distinctly relaxed atmosphere today. Most people were in shirtsleeves, some in shorts and t-shirts (especially the joggers). Mid-January and we were having a spring-like day.
What a treat! Especially after the major winter storms of two weeks ago with rivers overflowing highways and snow in Jerusalem and in the Galilee and in the Golan, today gave no hint of what the country experienced two weeks ago — except for the children jumping up and down in the snow outside Ra’a’nana’s large shopping mall complex and throwing snowballs made from the snow trucked down here from the Hermon Mountains in the early morning hours today for their enjoyment.
I walked the 5 blocks or so to my polling place, while stopping to chat with some people I recognized from the neighborhood. No one was rushing (a rare phenomenon in Israel)! No one appeared stressed. Just outside the polling place, in my case, a local elementary school, I saw banners and posters and flyers promoting a range of candidates — not all the candidates — just the most notable parties: Likud-Beiteinu, HaBayit haYehudi (Naftali Bennett’s party), Yair Lapid’s party, Tsipi Livni’s T’nua party, Labor, and maybe one or two others. Young volunteers politely offered pamphlets to those still undecided voters. There was a festive atmosphere.
Inside, there were a few lines depending on what your voter card said. Line 16 looked to be the longest. My line, 93, had two people before me. It was very relaxed (yes of course there was an armed guard outside the building, but that was not prominent). Standing at the entrance to the room where I would vote, I could see there were about 5 volunteer election ‘officials’ at a long table in a row. One took your ID card and found you on the pre-printed computerized list, one person recorded your name and ID number, one person held onto your ID until you finished voting. Another handed you the envelope and pointed you in the direction of the cardboard “booth”.
Inside the booth was a rectangular tray with little spaces for each of the party’s ballot slips. called a ‘petek’ in Hebrew, with identifying letters (a one, two or three letter catchword/slogan that had been assigned to each party during the campaign and had appeared for weeks on their literature and advertisements).
Each voter selects his party’s ballot slip. And this little slip of paper, this ‘petek’ is what one puts in the envelope behind the privacy of the cardboard booth. You close and seal the envelope, step out of the ‘booth’, walk past a cardboard ballot box perched on a chair, drop your envelope inside the slot, return to the table, retrieve your ID card and walk out.
That’s it! No forms! No computer crashes! Primitive though it may sound, there was really nothing to ‘break down’ or ‘crash’ or leave one wondering whether his or her vote was actually recorded.
Now, I’m a long time computer junkie myself. I’m proud to say I had one of the first Macs (the ‘box’) back in 1984-85, so I’m no technophobe. BUT, I have to say that compared to my experience during the Likkud primaries a short while ago, there was something so simple and wholesome about today’s voting process.
It was a breeze!
Now I did hear on the radio later about some isolated conflicts here and there in other towns, but I saw no such problems here in Ra’a’nana as I walked around town past other polling places. It looked pretty much the same. Families were out leisurely walking with their children, stopping here and there to shop, taking the kids to the plaza outside Yad l’Banim to play in that (rapidly melting) mound of snow (or driving to the mall). It was all so uncharacteristically relaxed.
What a pleasure!
January 22, 2013