Camera crews and reporters – more than were ever seen at the President’s Residence -swarmed Jerusalem’s Smith School for the Arts on Tuesday morning as President Isaac Herzog, former leader of the Labor Party, went to cast his vote.
Video crews and stills photographers had gathered outside the school well before 7:30 a.m. although the president was not scheduled to arrive till 8:30.
Early-bird voters anticipating that this particular polling station would open earlier than advertised, showed up to cast their votes and to be free of this responsibility for the rest of the day.
Strangely, the area was free of political activists urging undecided voters to vote for their respective parties. All that was in evidence was a large Labor Party banner strung between three trees.
At 7:45 a.m., a couple of Meretz activists arrived with a small booth, a banner that they affixed to the fence of the school, and a small box of green t-shirts with a Meretz logo.
President Herzog and first Lady Michal Herzog cast their votes for the 2022 election on Nov. 1, 2022. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
The president’s entourage
Members of the president’s staff were on hand from 7:00 a.m. and were advising the media to get purple security bracelets so that they would have no problem being admitted to the room in which the president would vote.
They were then allowed in the room which was polling station 137.2, but scrutineers were approached by some voters who objected to being photographed, so all the media were asked to leave the room and readmitted only ten minutes before the arrival of Herzog and his wife Michal. By way of compensation, they were served coffee.
Members of the president’s team went behind the voting screen to ensure that all the voting slips were in order. An announcement was made that the president was on his way, and everyone had to get behind the cordoned-off area, which was so crowded that it took up a third of the room.
Herzog and his wife greeted each of the people at the inspection table individually and then presented their ID cards, which the Chief Inspector examined against a list of eligible voters. He declared: “Herzog, Isaac, OK,” and the president was then directed to the screen. The president then emerged and waited for his wife to make her choice.
Michal Herzog, who was a member of the Labor Party long before her husband was elected to the Knesset, looked like an advertisement for the party. She was clad in a sky blue jacket with matching shoes, navy pants, and a white blouse, which are the colors in Labor Party posters -for that matter, they are also the colors of Likud.
In Hebrew, English and Arabic, Herzog said that he and his wife had enjoyed their democratic right to vote. He emphasized that Israel is “a true democracy” in which millions of voters can decide the future of the nation.
Urging the public to go out and vote Herzog, reminded citizens there are many nations that deny their residents the right to free and fair elections.
Changes since the last election
Despite the bureaucracy and intensive security surrounding the president’s brief visit to the school, everyone was unfailingly polite. This, in itself, was a positive change for Israel.
Another change was in the school itself where there is smooth, stairless access to the external compound and to the interior of the building. This was particularly helpful to several voters who employed the use of mobility aids like canes.