Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One small step for Israel, one giant leap for Sarah

If I'd been expecting trumpets to sound and fans to throw confetti at me while I voted for the first time in an Israeli election, I'd have been sorely disappointed. Save for two elderly ladies who held me up a bit while climbing to the second floor of the high school where my voting station was located, I had absolutely no wait. I just went into the classroom, showed my National ID Card to the four good folks sitting at the table, and went into the lone booth with the envelope they'd given me. Actually it wasn't really a booth, but a table set up with a blue cardboard screen for privacy.

Behind the screen were about 30 sets of little slips of paper, each with the name of a party on it. My job was to pick my party, put its slip of paper into the envelope, and then go back to the table to enter my envelope into the ballot box. It doesn't get any more lo-tech than that, but at least we don't have to worry about dimpled chads. Envelopes with more than one slip inside are discounted. I've heard there are problems sometimes when people walk away with all the slips for parties they don't like, but I'm sure the four people at the table had extras of everything just in case.

(I should note that the four people included a charedi man, a woman who did not appear religious at all, and two men of vague demographic standing. I suppose that they have different parties represented at each voting station, so they can watchdog each other. They were joking around between themselves - it seemed like a nice atmosphere. It was odd, because any other day these people would probably be pointedly ignoring each other, but here they were, thrown together by circumstance, and having a nice chat over coffee and a ballot box.)

Right up to when I voted, I wasn't 100 percent sure whom to vote for. Like I said, I'd been wavering between Big Party A and Small Party B, but had pretty much discounted Small Party B a few days ago and was planning to vote for Big Party A-- not because I love Big Party A, but because I liked it more than any of the others, all things considered. But just yesterday, I started thinking that maybe Big Party C would be a better choice. So, right up to my walk up the stairs behind the old ladies, I was wavering between Big Party A or Big Party C. I got to the booth, and took so long staring at the two slips of paper, trying to feel what my heart was telling me and to feel if either of those papers had a better "energy" than the other, that the election reps at the table asked me if I need any help.

Finally I realized that if I vote for Big Party A, I'd spend the rest of my life wondering whether I'd done the right thing, whereas if I vote for Big Party C, I could just vote and leave the rest up to the cosmos. So I voted for Big Party C. As I dropped the envelope into the box, I mentioned that I'm a new immigrant voting for the first time here, and the big charedi man immediately behind the box pretended to be snapping my picture. They all congratulated me, and that was that.

By the way, if you want to see some much better election blogging, Allison has been keeping her thumb on the pulse of voting day.

And the Jewish Agency is having a life webcast.

Thumbnail info on each of the medium-to-large parties here.

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