Israeli Elections and Spoiled Ballots

There are several differences between the electoral processes here in Canada and those held in Israel.

One thing that has always impressed me is the Israeli use of party lists which in essence enables every Israeli vote cast to count toward the selection of the member of the Knesset. In our system ‘ the first across the wire ‘ in a riding becomes that Member of Parliament while those votes for other candidates are discarded. Many have thought it a pity that these votes could not be aggregated nationally and assigned to the appropriate parties for use in a list selection of surplus candidates which would result in a Parliament more reflective of the popular vote.

That being said, I was surprised at the number of spoiled ballots (43,869) in the recent Israeli election given the high 72.3% voter turn out. Though not statistically significant, would not these numbers indicate that 43,869 voters cared enough to get out and vote, but who are in essence not represented.

Why not have these spoiled votes be ‘ assigned ‘ to each of the parties in a statistical proportional way corresponding to the percentage of the National popular vote each received. They could also be assigned in a straight linear manner ie 43,869 votes divided by 11 parties for application to each party’s list. This application of additional votes might result in some of the parties who did not pass the threshold actually doing so. Thus 43,869 plus 191,577 votes would have the potential to become ‘ Knessetly ‘ represented ?

However, let it not be thought that I am advocating the application of a ‘ bell curve ‘ to an electoral process, nor should this degenerate into an ethnic or socio-regional discussion as to which political party’s supporters might be more inclined to spoil their ballots !

In the coming days as various views and opinions are discussed, should there ever be a lull in the debate, perhaps a discussion as to how to ‘ use ‘ the 43,869 spoiled ballots could be held.

About the Author
Yonatan Michael Curry is retired Canadian Public servant who has been a frequent traveler to Israel since 2003. With an interest in daily life and its associated values he brings a fresh, observant and unbiased view on various aspects of Israeli daily life. And not without a bit of humour. Though he has never rented a car while there Yonatan has travelled the length and breadth of Israel.