Voting at Ramla prison in 2009
Photo: Reuters
Prisons gear towards Election Day
IPS prepares to allow 10,800 Israeli prisoners and detainees cast their ballots in national elections

Breaking the law may strip individuals of their freedom but it doesn't strip them of the right to vote. The Israel Prison Service is gearing to allow 10,800 inmates and detainees to cast their ballots on January 22, even though not many jailbirds are expected to do so.


Voter turnout in Israel's prisons amounted to only 21% in the 2009 national elections, perhaps due to the fact that the inmates' exposure to current events is greatly restricted.


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"They don't care what happens in the political arena, they aren't socially involved, and we doubt they would have voted even if they weren't in jail," an IPS official offered his take. "We must remember that prisoners come from the fringe (of society)… They don't care about the elections."



Israeli prisoners have no access to the Internet and so they are left out of the campaign wars waged on social networking and news websites. And only some have access to television, newspapers and the radio.


With no campaign posters gracing the walls of prison hallways and no visits by politicians, inmates will have to learn the candidates' and parties' names from lists that are to be hung on bulletin boards.


Easier process

On Tuesday one to four voting stations are to be set up in 31 IPS facilities across the country, allowing prisoners to vote from 8 am to 8 pm. Some of the stations will have to travel between wards that don't allow prisoners to move around the facility.


Unlike in previous years, when a state ID, a driver's license or a passport was required to vote, this time inmates will be able to use their prisoner card to exercise their democratic right. The IPS has promised to facilitate the voting process for any prisoner seeking to participate.


Meanwhile, special ballot boxes are also to be set up at hospitals in order to make voting easier on staff and patients.


The police are also completing the preparations for Election Day. Over 20,000 officers are to spread across the country to secure 10,000 voting stations. Thousands of ushers and security guards have been enlisted for the effort as well.


Moreover, the authorities are to impose a closure on the Palestinian territories.


Omri Efraim contributed to the report




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