Former justice minister: Put cameras at every polling station, election committee got it wrong

The former justice minister said that cameras should be at every polling station given irregularities during April’s election.

By World Israel News Staff

Ayelet Shaked, leader of the Yemina party, said on Tuesday that the Israel’s Central Elections Committee erred by agreeing to ban cameras from polling stations.

There should be cameras in every polling station, Shaked said.

“In the Arab sector where there is major fraud, it should be permitted to put them not just at the counting [stage] but also during the voting – just not behind the partition [where people cast their vote],” she said in an interview with Ynet.

On Monday, Central Elections Committee Chairman Hanan Melcer said that inspectors at polling stations would ensure adherence to the camera ban, saying the committee would do everything it could to stop “those who seek to sway the results in their favor outside the democratic rules.”

In issuing his decision, Melcer decided to follow Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s position that placing cameras in Arab polling stations could be a criminal offense.

Mandelblit wrote to the Central Election Committee in early August, “Though it’s not possible to say definitively that placing cameras at polling stations constitutes a criminal offense, in certain circumstances they would be considered a crime as they interfere with the voting process.”

Shaked, who served as justice minister, disagreed, telling Ynet, “Cameras can be put in all the polling stations for the counting… This is not to deter anyone. It is meant to maintain the purity of the elections.”

“From the polling stations that we went over, in the ultra-Orthodox sector, we also saw an anomaly at certain polling stations,” Shaked said. “If you ask me – put cameras everywhere. In the end, when a person is behind the partition, there are no cameras.”

Asked why she didn’t push through legislation mandating cameras when she was justice minister, Shaked said, “Before the election, we didn’t think about it. Only after the election did we sit down and count the ballots and look through the minutes and see how many irregularities there were.”

During April’s vote, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party deployed activists with cameras at polls in Arab communities. The party said it was combating voter fraud, but critics said the point was to intimidate and deter minority voters.

The Likud attacked Mandeblit’s decision earlier this month, saying the cameras at Arab polling stations were meant to stop fraud.

“Likud has sought to check hundreds of polling stations in which suspicions of fraud in the Arab sector emerged in the last elections – and they have not been examined until now,” it said.

Israel faces an unprecedented repeat election after Netanyahu’s party failed to form a government after April’s elections and then dissolved parliament.

AP contributed to this report.