Voices from the field

A Personal Reflection from a First-Time Voter

By Loren Sykes

The three days I felt most “Israeli” were August 20, 2013, Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2014 and March 17, 2015. August 20, 2013 was the day that my family and I landed here as olim. Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2014 was our first independence day in Israel. And, just recently, March 17, 2015 was my first chance to vote in Israel's national elections for the Knesset. I had chills all the way to the polling place.

While Israel is one of the greatest hubs for hi-tech innovation in the world, voting here is incredibly low-tech. Your name is approved by a person looking at a paper list. You vote by taking a piece of paper with the name of the party you want to vote for, put it in a special blue envelope, seal the envelope and then drop it in the ballot box. No touch screens or chads; rather, an old fashioned paper ballot for one party in an envelope.  

Here, everyone has an opinion about the elections and is not shy about sharing that opinion. They are not shy about asking for which party you will cast your vote. All of this makes for the most fascinating conversations with people I don’t really know or, most likely, will ever see again - taxi drivers, passengers on the bus, waiters and waitresses.  

Just like how my eyes well up with tears every time I hear HaTikvah, they welled up with tears today when I put my vote in the ballot box. Today, my Zionism was expressed through a small piece of paper, in a blue envelope, in a blue ballot box with the official seal of The State of Israel on the front. I participated in a free, fair, open election in the Middle East in the only true democracy in the region, the democratic and Jewish State of Israel. My home.