The answer is that Israel's elections law is really toothless, and even when it is enforced, it means almost nothing to the parties and individuals found to have violated it. This allows political parties – especially haredi political parties – to create new ways to skirt the law or even to openly violate it without any fear of significant punishment.
Israel's Central Elections Committee issued the following letter on voter freedom ahead of tomorrow's Knesset elections:
Every voter has the absolute right to cast their ballot. The vote is free and according to their conscience, for one list of candidates that is running in the elections for the Knesset.
Central Elections Committee
The following announcement is made in accordance with Section 16 of the Knesset Elections Law (Propaganda Methods) – 1959:
1. Every voter has the absolute right to cast their ballot. The vote is free and according to their conscience, for one list of candidates that is running in the elections for the Knesset.
2. The vote is by secret ballot.
· In each polling station there is a voting booth that hides the voter while s/he is casting a ballot.
· The envelopes holding the ballot slips are insulated. The voter, and only the voter is allowed to put the ballot slip into the envelope. The voter may seal the envelope if desired.
· The voter, and only the voter, is allowed to place the envelope containing the ballot slip into the ballot box. In the ballot box, the envelope will get mixed together with the other envelopes, thus ensuring secrecy.
· It must be emphasized that only a voter who is ill or has a relevant handicap and cannot manage alone the actions needed for voting, may be helped by another person who will accompany him/her to the polling station. Such a person may not be a director or employer of the institution where the voter is living. A voter with limited mobility may vote in a polling station that is deemed accessible. Details and locations may be found here (in Hebrew).
3. The law establishes severe punishments for any corruption related to the elections, or interference with the procedures on Elections Day or with the act of an individual’s voting, or voting that is related to any crime.
4. Any person who does one of the following can expect to be punished:
· Gives or offers a bribe to a voter regarding whether or not s/he votes
· Receives or agrees to receive a bribe regarding his/her vote
· Promises or denies employment or threatens termination of employment to a voter regarding the voter’s choice of list of candidates.
· Influences the voter’s choice of a list of candidates through the use of oaths, curses, excommunication, or blessings.
· Interferes with the regular proceedings of Elections Day.
· Interferes with a voter while voting or prevents the voter from voting.
· Presents identification to the Polling Station Committee that does not belong to him/her.
· Votes more than once.
5. The Central Elections Committee does everything possible to insure that each citizen votes freely and according to his/her conscience.
6. I call on all citizens who are eligible to vote to exercise their democratic right on Elections Day, thereby influencing the future of the State of Israel.
High Court Justice
Chairman of the Central Elections Committee for the 20th Knesset
Unfortunately, Satmar has repeatedly offered to pay Israelis who refuse to vote, while haredi parties repeatedly threaten their voters with ostracism and all sorts of divine punishments if they don't go out and vote the proper haredi party or promise special blessings and divine rewards for those who do.
All of these actions are illegal, but none of the parties who did them them have ever been prosecuted. The Sefardi haredi Shas Party was reprimanded several times for offering their voters special religious amulets in exchange for voting Shas, but the penalty given by the Central Elections Committee was ridiculously small – if memory serves me, it was about $5,000, the most Israel's toothless elections law allowed – and was only given after repeat violations by Shas in successive elections. That tiny fine likely bought Shas tens of thousands of votes.
In this election cycle, the head of the modesty squad that shares offices with the Degel HaTorah faction of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party's non-hasidic Degel HaTorah faction threatened to have the children of any woman involved in the new all-female haredi B'zechutan Party expelled from haredi schools. He also threatened other forms of ostracism and divine punishment. Even so, he has not been prosecuted or fines and neither has Degel HaTorah or United Torah Judaism Party.
Haredi parties have also allegedly had their own voting supervisors stand with haredim as they vote to make sure the haredi voter is really voting for the haredi party. This is clearly illegal but Israel's often hapless law enforcement never seems to be able to catch this as it happens, so again, no prosecutions.
Of course, it isn't just in Israel that haredim have been caught committing voter fraud. Satmar hasidim were caught repeatedly in Brooklyn by various media, including FailedMessiah.com, and local poll watchers found many irregularities in the Satmar hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel north of New York City. No hasid has ever been prosecuted though – largely because the district attorneys are elected positions and the politicians who hold those positions are often dependent on haredi bloc votes to remain in office.