(JNS.org) More than 45 percent of eligible Israeli voters cast their ballots by 4 p.m. Israel time on Tuesday, with an estimated 13.7 percent voting in the first three hours of the election. The latter figure represents the country's highest voter turnout during those hours since 1999.
There are more than 5.8 million registered voters in Israel who can cast their ballots in just more than 10,000 locations. Israeli prisoners are also allowed to vote at 56 ballot boxes set up in 27 prisons around the Jewish state, in addition to 255 ballot boxes in Israel hospitals, according to Yedioth Ahronoth. But unlike the inclusion of absentee ballots in American elections, Israeli citizens who do not live in Israel cannot vote by mail from abroad.
The Zionist Union party, a merger of the Isaac Herzog-led Labor party and the Tzipi Livni-led Hatnuah party, is currently leading in polls, followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. The next prime minister will be the leader of the party that can form a governing coalition of at least 61 of 120 seats in the Knesset, not necessarily the party that wins the most Knesset seats on Tuesday. Polls close at 10 p.m. Israel time.