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January 22, 2013 1:28 pm
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Israeli Elections: Voter Turnout Expected to Hit 70% as Polls Near Closing Time

avatar by Zach Pontz

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A ballot box in Israel.

Voter turnout for today’s election in Israel remains at its highest since the 1999 elections. The Central Elections Committee reported the number to be at 55%  by 6 p.m Tuesday Israel time, with an expectation that it will exceed 70%. However, Likud was reporting that its constituency was bucking the trend.

“There are reports that in regions that have traditionally been Likud strongholds, turnout has been lower than the national average,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to a polling station in Ashdod. “I therefore call on all generations of Likud voters to drop everything and go vote.”

Netanyahu is still expected to win re-election, albeit with a much lower number of seats in the Knesset than his joint Likud-Beiteinu coalition held when it partnered in October.

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Israel Police report that Election Day has proceeded without incident in most places. They have dealt with 350 irregularities connected to the elections, including the hanging of signs in violation of regulations and fights breaking out between activists. Eleven cases have been opened relating to various crimes, such as disruptions at the polls, voter fraud, illegal voting, public indecency, and illegal posting of notices.

There was a bit of a controversy when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cast his ballot, displaying his Likud-Beytenu ticket to the cameras. Elections Committee chairman Elyakim Rubinstein ordered all parties to cease broadcasting footage of party leaders touring around the country and casting their ballots, ruling that showing the candidates voting constituted campaigning, which is forbidden in the final week of the elections.

Over five million Israelis are  expected to have cast their ballot by the time polls close on Tuesday. Exit polls are set to be released sometime after, with finals results to follow.

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