The percentage of voters in Israel who actually exercise their right to vote is diminishing with time.
Since 2001, voting percentage has been below 70%, in the last two elections (2006, 2009) voting percentage has been below 65% (source)
The dangers of this phenomenon is:
1) Many of the citizens will not feel that the elected Knesset and gov't represent them. Knesset and gov't lose legitimacy and loyalty of the citizens and will fint it hard to pass "unpopular" laws
2) Small parties benefit from small voter numbers, as their chances of entering the Knesset rises. This contributes to the already increasing fragmentation in the Knesset and difficulties of maintaining strong and unified gov't.
The issue has been discussed in the local media over the past days. The ideas that were raised to counter this:
1) Make voting compulsory
There are several western countries where voting is compulsory and violators are fined (Belgium, Austria, Australia and more)
pro: this will surely increase voting percentage up to 90+ levels.
con: it is not certain if this will increase voters commitment and involvement in the democratic process. It is even uncertain to increase voting percentage, since people may perform their duty by casting an "empty" vote (every polling station provides an empty card as vote, for the purpose that if a card is missing, the voter may use an empty card, write down the letter/s of the missing party and cast that card as vote). casting an empty card is considered "invalid" and it does not count as part of voting percentage.
2) Allow Israeli citizens who travel abroad to vote in Israeli embassies. Again, there are several western countries who allow this.
pro: this will surely increase voting percentage.
con: not sure by how much.
3) Allow Israeli citizens to vote in advance. As is done in the US.
pro: this is another way to allow citizens who travel abroad to vote, as well as everyone else who will not be available on election day.
4) Allow Israeli citizens who live abroad to vote in Israeli embassies.
pro: this will surely increase voting percentage by a significant margin. Can perhaps contribute to commitment to Israel of Israeli citizens who live abroad.
con: There are many Israeli residents who will not approve of an "outsider" deciding on their lives (yours truly is one of them)
- Allow citizens to vote in every polling station. Currently, a citizen may only vote in a predefined station, usually one that is close to their registered address. However, many voters live (e.g. rent) far away from their "registered" address, others may take a vacation and be far away from home (election day is a day off in Israel).
- Electronic vote via the Internet.
what say you?