Another first

In many ways, today was the culmination of our aliyah: our first vote in an Israeli election.

Due to the election, the office was closed, so we had a lie in before heading out to the polling station mid morning.

susan_going_to_vote

Yes, it’s January. Yes, Susan is wearing her sunglasses. Yes, the weather was hot, sunny, and clear blue skies – an amazing 24 degrees!

The polling station (actually several polling stations in one location) was in a large school complex, situated in a park. The atmosphere was very relaxed; families out for a stroll, kids playing on the grass, and party political workers on standby in case you needed some last minute information.

First, we had to work out which of the individual stations we should go to.

It's telling you where to go, not whether to vote for the right, center, or left!

It’s telling you where to go, not whether to vote for the right, center, or left!

We were upstairs at station 101. (No, the numbering system does not make any sense to me either.) It seemed that lots of people had the same idea as us – there was a wee bit of a queue. We met friends and neighbors there, and the time passed quite quickly. (One neighbor joked that instead of voting for a political party, we should be voting for a new builder, but that’s another story for another time.)

Some of these people do not look old enough to vote...

Some of these people do not look old enough to vote…

Eventually the historic moment arrived. Susan went first. In the classroom polling station, the officials checked Susan’s ID, then gave her an official voting envelope. As Susan noticed, it was in a lovely blue color with an official Israeli seal. Then, Susan had to go behind the screen.

A secret ballot

A secret ballot

Then, Susan selected the little paper slip representing her chosen party, put the slip in the envelope, and sealed it. I suppose if you put in two (or more, or no) slips, that’s what counts as a spoiled ballot. And so, the real moment of truth: the vote.

A dream come true

A dream come true

I followed on, and that was that. We felt terrific.

We walked back to the car through the park, stopping for a chat with some friends and acquaintances, and enjoying the holiday atmosphere. Truly, we were walking on air. A memorable day in our lives. Whatever the outcome, we had exercised our democratic right, and joined in the Israeli political system. Later we will have to deal with the result. Whoever gets elected, the real power struggle is afterwards – in the bid to form a working coalition. But for now, we are on a high.

[While I remember, I wanted to mention that this was a computer free election system. Apart from the generation of the voter lists, it’s all done manually. They check your name off the list by scoring it out with a pen, they hand you a paper envelope in exchange for your ID, and you put in a paper party slip, and you put it in a cardboard box, and get your ID back. Very simple. No hanging chads to go wrong, or computers to crash. I think people here are suspicious of electronic voting systems and I can understand why.]