Wondered when, where, or how to vote? Are you registered? Then, this is your guide to local elections – as featured in The Jerusalem Post.

You’ve seen the posters hanging outside your neighbor’s home, maybe heard some sharp rhetoric among local political wannabees.  It means that local elections are on their way.  Below is the information you need to prepare for Election Day.

When Are Elections?
Municipal elections (הבחירות לרשויות המקומיות / habechirot l’rashuyot hamekomiyot) are held every 5 years.  This year, they will be held on Tuesday 22 October 2013.  The hours of operation of polling places vary based on where you live.

Which Municipalities Are Having Elections?  How Many Seats Are Being Elected in My Locality?
Over 100 municipalities are holding elections this fall.  A full list of participating municipalities and the number of seats on each city council being elected is available online.

i-voted-stickerWho Can Vote?
There are 3 qualifications to vote in municipal elections:

  1. You must be 17 years old by the day of elections.
  2. You must be registered as a resident at your proper address by 12 September 2013.
  3. You must not have been registered as a resident at a different address within another municipal district which had elections in the past 18 months.

How Do I Check if I am Registered to Vote in the Right Place?
Israel maintains a voter registration roll (פנקס בוחרים / pinkas bocharim).  Your address must be correctly registered with the Ministry of Interior by 12 September 2013.  To verify that you are listed, you can use one of the following means:

  1. Visit the online Polling Place Locator.  Enter your Israeli ID number (תעודת זהות / teudat zehut), type in the random string of challenge characters, and click “חפש.”
  2. Send an SMS with your Israeli ID number to 052-999-1919.
    Note: On one attempt, I received the response that the check digit on my ID number was incorrect.  When I resent the same ID number, I received verification of where I am voting.
  3. Call 1-800-800-508.
    •     The line is available from 30 July 2013 through 27 August 2013.
    •     Automated response is available 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.
    •     Live representatives are available Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 until 22:00 and on Friday from 08:30 until 13:00.
    •    Press 5 for English.  Enter your ID number and press *.
    •     Note: Using the automated system, for both my and Mrs. Matzliach’s ID numbers, I was told that we did not appear in the voter rolls.  When transferred to a live representative, she confirmed that we did in fact appear.

The hearing impaired can fax a request to 1-800-800-608.

An animated explanation of how to verify you are on the voter registration roll…

Is Election Day a Holiday?
No, municipal election day is not a holiday.

Where Do I Vote?
By 21 days before elections, each voter will be sent a Voter Notification (הודעה לבוחר / hoda’a l’bocher) which includes the address of your polling place, whether it is handicapped-accessible, and its hours of operation.  You may also find your polling place online.

Soldiers – both active duty and reservists who have been called up – can vote at their base.

Individuals with physical handicaps must be accommodated.

  • Every municipality must have at least one handicapped-accessible polling place, and those with more than 20 polling places must have at least two.
  • Handicapped individuals may vote at a handicapped-accessible polling place, even if it is not their assigned polling place as listed in the Voter Notification.
  • Handicapped-accessible polling places can be found by calling 1-800-800-508 between 8 October 2013 and 22 October 2013.

What Do I Need to Bring with Me?
You must bring a valid, unexpired photo ID.  Acceptable options include:

  1. Israeli identification card (תעודת זהות / teudat zehut)
  2. Israeli driver’s license
  3. Israeli passport

What Are We Voting For?  How Exactly Do We Vote?
Two ballots will be cast – for mayor and for a list of candidates for city council.  On 3 October 2013, the Election Supervisor will publish the official list of candidates for mayor in each municipality as well as the lists of candidates for city council.

You will vote twice in these elections:

  1. with a yellow slip of paper for Mayor, which will be put in a yellow envelope
  2. with a white slip of paper for a list of candidates for City Council, which will be put in a white envelope

Soldiers who are voting on base will need to write in their selection on blank yellow and white ballots, referring to a booklet which lists the relevant options for all municipalities.

Who is Running for Office in My City?
The official list of candidates running for city council and major in each municipality is available.  You can find who is running in your local elections.

What Happens if No Mayoral Candidate Gets a Majority of Votes?
If no mayoral candidate gets at least 40% of the vote, then a second round of elections will be held on 5 November 2013.  A second round will also be held if both candidates receive an equal number of votes.

Wishing you a happy Municipal Election Day!

8 thoughts on “The Ultimate Israeli Citizen’s Guide to the 2013 Municipal Elections

  1. Do you know what time the ballots will be open from/until? (For those who work outside their home city, leaving early and returning late)

  2. How/where can I find a list of candidates for mayor in my city with their email addresses?

    1. Benji, great question. Though I do not see this question addressed regarding local elections, I would assume that it is not possible, as it is not possible for Knesset elections. Voting abroad for the Knesset is only allowed for diplomats, official emissaries of the Jewish Agency, and Navy personnel. Unless you can score a diplomatic passport before your next comedy tour, you might be out of luck 🙁

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