March 4, 2020 / 12:27 PM / 25 days ago

Masked Israeli monitors count coronavirus votes, carefully

SHOHAM, Israel, March 4 (Reuters) - Gloved and masked, Israeli election monitors on Wednesday counted ballot papers of voters suspected of coming into contact with coronavirus.

More than 4,000 such voters cast ballots on Monday at special polling booths that were sequestered and sterile, and where they were required to wear surgical masks and gloves as Central Elections Committee delegates watched through a nylon partition.

The committee said its senior directors had volunteered to count the votes, to spare staff vacillation over health risks.

Taking care to avoid paper-cuts, the monitors - some in protective suits, others making do with masks and gloves - sorted through piles of ballots in a guarded pavilion.

The committee had set a target tally pace of 1,000 votes per hour, reflecting public pressure for resolution in what was, amid political deadlock, Israel’s third election in a year.

How Israel executes the most basic of democratic functions under the shadow of the coronavirus could offer lessons to other countries - such as the United States, which holds a presidential election in November.

Israel has reported 15 coronavirus cases and quarantined thousands of people on suspicion of exposure.

The latter include the general in charge of Israel’s military operations, hundreds of children from at least two schools and hundreds of soccer fans who are believed to have sat close to an infected person at a Tel Aviv match last month. (Writing by Dan Williams Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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