Record-high voter turnout was not seen in all Israeli sectors on Tuesday as the nation sought to determine the makeup of the next Knesset. Though accurate voting data are not released until polling stations are officially closed, many poll operators in Arab population centers assessed that voter turnout was lower than ever.
As of 5 pm Tuesday, Nazareth polls saw only 30% of registered voters, Sakhnin 33%, Tayibe 28%, Tira 25%, Kfar Kassem 38%, Jaljulia 20%, Qalansuwa 27%, and in Umm al-Fahm only 21% cast their ballots.
“It feels like voter turnout is low; voters haven’t been showing up,” said a Tayibe poll station chairman.
Activists for Hadash called potential voters throughout the day in an attempt to persuade them to go vote, as party members approached people on the street.
Samah Salaime Egbariya, chairwoman of the Na’am non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the rights of Arab women in Israel, told Ynet that the representation of minorities in parliament should be a top priority in a democratic country. “Low voter turnout in the Arab society should concern all Israeli citizens, the Jewish ones even more so than the Arab ones,” she said.
Egbariya stressed that “the Arab public has had its share of disappointments, after failing to be fully integrated in the country. For 60 years, it has repeatedly failed in its quest to play an active role in the Knesset and government. I think that the Right’s incitement, alongside the Arab society’s desperation that any change will occur and the Arab politicians’ preoccupation with issues that don’t really appeal to their constituents, have left hundreds of thousands of voters on this beautiful day with their families or out in nature and shopping centers.
“With a sense that there is nothing to hope for and that tomorrow everything will be the same – Arab voters have demonstrated their opinions by not showing up at the polls,” she added.
Ali Mahmid, an Umm al-Fahm resident, told Ynet: “I didn’t expect turnout to be low… In my opinion, Arab citizens feel deprived even by the Arab parties. That’s why its time to take care of problems within the Arab sector, not focus only on politics.
On a national level, voter turnout was the highest in over a decade. As of 6 pm, 55% of registered voters have cast their ballots across the country, amounting to over 3.1 million Israelis. In comparison, in 2009, the 6 pm turnout stood at 50.3%.
Voter turnout in prisons as of 4 pm stood at 63%, the Israel Prison Service reported, marking an increase in voter turnout compared to the 2009 elections, which showed only 21% of prisoners at the same hour.
Voter turnout among IDF soldiers was also record high, and it stood at 57% at 6 pm, compared to 46% at the same hour in 2009, the Central Elections Committee reported.