Fighting Voting Suppression in the Negev

7 March 2019

The right to vote is an essential part of any democracy. In Israel, some citizens lack access to that important right – and one of NIF’s grantees, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, is fighting to protect voting rights.

In Israel’s Negev desert, thousands of Bedouin Israelis face restricted access to voting. 11 Bedouin villages have no polling station or access to public transport, and their residents are facing trips of up to 50 kilometers on election day in April.

Adalah recently sent a letter to the Central Elections Committee to demand that polling stations be placed in these villages.

Adalah said, “The absence of polling stations in the Bedouin villages is one of the main reasons for the low voter turnout among this population.” They stressed that “harming citizens’ access to polling stations constitutes a grave and disproportionate violation of the constitutional right to vote.”

“The fact that we have to push the Israeli Elections Committee to put ballot boxes inside communities – letting every citizen exercise her or his basic constitutional right to vote – is yet another indication of Israel’s efforts to pressure Bedouin citizens to leave their homes and villages,” said Sawsan Zaher, Deputy Director of Adalah, who wrote the letter.