1999 Election Background Information

* The Central Election Committee (CEC) is comprised of 38 members -- including a chairman selected by the President of the Supreme Court.-- representing all political parties, and assisted by 18 regional election committees. Each regional committee is headed by a judge (also appointed by the President of the Supreme Court), who is assisted by a director who holds responsibility for election day logistics.

* Number of eligible voters: 4,285,428 -- a 9.2% increase (382,000 voters) since the 1996 general election.

* 1999 election budget: NIS 288,512,000.

* Electoral threshold of valid ballots cast: 1.5% (estimated to be 55,000)

* Number of printed ballots: 5.5 million ballots have been printed for each list contending in the Knesset elections, while 7 million ballots have been printed for each candidate for prime minister -- comprising a total weight of 10.5 tons of white paper and 25 tons of colored paper.

* Number of polling stations: 7,344 -- 7,021 in Israel, 103 in Israeli missions abroad, 173 in hospitals, 42 in prisons. For the first time, handicapped voters will be allowed to cast their ballots at special, accessible polling stations in the area of their official residence.

Polling stations will operate from 07:00 to 22:00, while those in some smaller communities will operate only from 09:00 to 21:00. No photography or filming is permitted at polling stations.

According to the Party Financing Law, eligible voters whose assigned polling stations are over 20 kms. away are entitled, on election day, to free round-trip bus or train transportation to their registered residence. This service will be provided, upon presentation of identity cards, at central bus/train terminals and other designated locations.

Eligible voters receiving hospital care on election day will be permitted to vote at hospital polling stations upon presentation of their identity cards and proof of admission to the hospital; hospital staff and visitors must vote at their local station. Assistance will be provided, pursuant to relevant regulations, for those patients who are unable to independently cast their votes.

IDF, Israel Police and Border Police personnel, including those on reserve duty, will vote at special military/police polling stations; mobile polling stations will serve IDF outposts. While Israelis serving abroad on behalf of official and government agencies (Foreign Ministry, Jewish Agency, Histadrut, World Zionist Organization, Jewish National Fund and Keren Hayesod) are entitled to vote at diplomatic polling stations, all other Israeli citizens abroad on election day are ineligible to vote.

It should be noted that, this year, no polling stations will be available on Israeli sea vessels, since none presently carry more than 14 Israeli citizens on its manifest.

* Voting procedures: Prior to election day, all registered voters will have received formal notification of their status as eligible voters, together with the address of their polling station; these cards are not required to be presented in order to vote. Related enquiries can also be directed to the CEC Public Information Center, via the toll-free numbers advertised in the media, where assistance is available in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and Amharic -- and by fax for the hearing impaired.

On election day, all voters will identify themselves to polling officials exclusively by means of their identity cards, which will then be stamped. Each voter will then be noted on the election registry and presented with two ballot envelopes: one blue (for the Knesset elections) and one yellow (for the prime ministerial elections), with blank slips provided in the event that insufficient colored slips are supplied. Inside the voting booth, voters will select two ballots -- one white (for the Knesset elections) and one yellow (for the prime ministerial elections) -- and place each of them in the corresponding envelope; each envelope is then sealed and deposited in the appropriate ballot box. Ballots placed in the wrong envelope will be disqualified.

Voters in hospital or serving in the IDF, Police or Border Police (as detailed above) will vote using the outer envelope system. After being cast, each set of two ballots will be inserted in an "outer" envelope -- on which the voter's name, identification number and civilian address will be written -- with all such envelopes being sent directly to the Central Elections Committee at the Knesset after the balloting has ended. Later, once all the voting lists have been collected from the regular polling stations, the personal information on each envelope will be checked against the registry from the voter's civilian polling station in order to eliminate any possibility of multiple voting. Then, after all the outer envelopes have been checked, all the approved ballots will be counted together, thus ensuring full confidentiality.

The supervisory committee at each polling station will consist of three members, representing parties from the outgoing Knesset and the CEC. Parties are entitled to station observers at polling stations where they are unrepresented on the supervisory committee. All supervisory committee members must be over 16 years of age by election day.

* Debates: No organized television or radio debates between the candidates for prime minister have been scheduled within the framework of the election propaganda broadcasts, although candidates may decide to meet on current affairs programs.

Source: Israel Government Press Office.