Four months after the ruling Likud party led a voter intimidation campaign against Palestinian voters, the government body responsible for ensuring free and fair elections says it hasn’t made any changes to its process.
With just a few weeks before Israeli citizens head back to the polls for the second time this year, the government body responsible for supervising and regulating elections in Israel said it has not drawn any lessons and has not implemented any changes to prevent the repeat of a voter intimidation campaign that targeted Arab Palestinian voters in early 2019.
On April 9, 2019, Election Day, a settler-aligned public relations firm and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party led a voter intimidation stunt specifically targeting Arab Palestinian voters. The Likud sent around 1,300 activists wearing hidden cameras to serve as election monitors at polling stations in Arab cities and towns. Party activists were not sent with hidden cameras to polling places in non-Arab locales.
“Because there were observers on our behalf at every polling station, the [Arab] voting rate dropped by 50 percent – the lowest seen in recent years!” the PR firm, Kaizer-Inbar bragged on its Facebook page a day later.
Election monitors in Israel are either paid by the Elections Committee or are members of political parties. The parties themselves can decide where to send their observers.
With another election approaching in September, the Likud has announced an even broader operation. Civil rights groups are calling the ethnically targeted surveillance operation a clear attempt at voter intimidation and suppression, with some saying it is patently illegal. The Central Elections Committee, meanwhile, has yet to weigh in.
“It’s definitely another alarm raised about the attempt to oppress Arab Palestinians in Israel,” said Gilad Grossman, spokesperson for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. By targeting voters based on their ethnicity rather than placing cameras in areas where there are suspicions of voter fraud, “you’re basically marking all the Arab population in Israel as potential criminals or potential fraudsters,” added Grossman.
The Central Elections Committee said in late April that it had identified two polling stations with possible irregularities. One of them was in an Arab locality, the other...Read More