Eitan Charnoff
Consultant by day, volunteer firefighter & EMT by night

Jpost Flubbed the Facts on Overseas Voting

iVoteIsrael is currently in the midst of its third election cycle, and has successfully assisted more than 100,000 Americans, over the past four years, living in Israel to cast their ballots to vote in American elections.  iVoteIsrael takes the right to vote extremely seriously and is committed to doing all in its power to empower Americans to exercise their right to vote.

There are many challenges that iVoteIsrael faces in encouraging Americans to vote.  No, the biggest challenge is not the Presidential candidates, but the perception that the process to vote is arduous, cumbersome and just too difficult to do properly.  iVoteIsrael was established in order to overcome those perceptions and to assist those who choose to exercise that right of US citizenship.  And that is why this article is just so damaging as it perpetuates the myth that attempts to vote are a waste of time, because your vote won’t be counted in the end.   It will undoubtedly discourage Americans in Israel from voting in this election, and that is why iVoteIsrael has felt compelled to reply to this article and counter its accusations.

But on top of that, the article is just shoddy journalism.  Let me explain.
First the title of the article should be preceded by the exact number of those who spoke to Jpost, as in “Ten voters in Israel say iVoteIsrael flubbed absentee ballot requests.” twelve people complaining that they have not received their ballots kind of removes the damning charge of ‘an epidemic of malpractice in election/voter activities’.   iVoteIsrael values and fights for the rights of every American in Israel to vote, but if 10 or even 30 people out of thousands are unsuccessful to date, does that really warrant an article in a serious media outlet like the Jerusalem Post, Aspecially one that makes no attempt to understand how many requests are voided without ivotes assistance.

Then the article begins with an accusation that it makes absolutely no attempt to prove – that iVoteIsrael did not mail in their ballots ahead of the deadline.  First of all, there are still many weeks to go before Election Day so the ballots are not the question.  What the reporter probably meant was the ballot request form, otherwise known as the Federal Post Card Application or FPCA (very different than actual ballots – and for someone accusing a trusted organization with being irresponsible…).

The article also refers specifically to a voter from New York “Absentee ballot requests must be postmarked by Friday at the latest in order to be accepted in New York, a state from which many American-Israelis hail.”  Fortunately, iVoteIsrael is here to clarify the factual misinformation that Jerusalem Post article presented.  The October 14 deadline is for brand new voters – first time voters who have never registered to vote in New York before.  For any other New Yorkers who have voted before or who have been registered to vote in previous years, they have until November 1 for the Board of Elections to receive their application for an absentee ballot.  And on top of that, iVoteIsrael will be holding a series of events throughout the country to assist voters who have not received their official ballots to vote via the Federal Write-In Ballot (FWAB), as iVoteIsrael has done in each of the last two election cycles.  New York, by the way is one of twenty-two states that accept the FWAB as an absentee ballot request.  Good thing iVoteIsrael is here to set the record straight.

It may be a good idea for serious voters to eschew media outlets like the Jerusalem Post as a source for voting information.

But most importantly the reporter failed to list the many reasons why a voter would not receive their ballot or even why a County Board of elections may report that they have not received a valid FPCA.

The voter filled out the form incorrectly.

The voter’s handwriting was indecipherable to the County Board of Elections Clerk

The voter did not list the address that is on file at the County Board of Elections

County Board of Elections could not get ahold of a voter to confirm data on their FPCA

The voter did not sign and date the form in the proper box

The Consulate/Embassy did not mail the form

The form got lost in the mail

Or most likely… that the County Board of Elections is still processing the ballot request.

The least likely of all scenarios is that iVoteIsrael, an organization with one of the best track records in the world in assisting American citizens to vote by creating a user-friendly online wizard; hosting more than 30 events throughout Israel to assist American voters in Israel; answering thousands of queries via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter from grateful American citizens; setting up convenient dropboxes throughout the country, (and more) just neglected to mail the registration forms.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Is it likely that the three voters that are identified in this article are not the only voters who have experienced frustration at the process and are disappointed that they have not yet received their ballots?


iVoteIsrael is committed to assisting all US voters, and can completely appreciate the frustration experienced by many voters.  In fact, while iVoteIsrael is disappointed that these voters have not yet received their ballots, iVoteIsrael is encouraged by the passion of these and other voters who have expressed their strong desire to vote by reaching out to the journalist and conveying that exasperation.

There is a lot more in this article that iVoteIsrael can take exception to, (including not contacting iVoteIsrael about this article, and when I finally initiated contact with the journalist, my words were misquoted), but with less than a month to go before the election, the dedicated iVoteIsrael staff has more important work to do – namely in ensuring that every voter from Israel who wants to cast their vote is able to do so.

Oh, and one more thing.  If you are looking for accurate information about the election process, go to iVoteIsrael – not a media outlet that flubbed this article so badly.

Lastly, anyone who concerned or just missed registration deadlines call fill out a write-in-ballot and send it by mail or to one of our drop off locations, as many states will accept these forms without prior registration.

Eitan Charnoff
National Director iVote Israel

I have published this article via a third party because the Jpost published an irresponsible story on iVote Israel and refused to even provide us a platform for a full fledged and timely response.

About the Author
Eitan Charnoff is a consultant and entrepreneur working on emergency services, diplomatic, and philanthropic projects that promote security and tolerance for all. In his spare time, Eitan is a volunteer firefighter and EMT as well as helps run an international rescue team.
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