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What 200,000 Voices Could Do

It’s time American voters in Israel understood our strength.

Israel has in its borders approximately two hundred thousand potential voters for the US Election this upcoming November. It’s a truly astounding number, and one that doesn’t just show the tremendous connection between Israel and the United States, but shared interest, even a shared fate.

These kinds of numbers could wield as much political influence has an entire U.S. State from six thousand miles away. Just think about that for a second.

We have the same influence on this upcoming election as numerous states in the union. That’s really something.

We wanted to demonstrate the power of Israel’s American voters. So here are some elections that could have yielded different results if today’s Israeli voters had their way.

Of course, a body of delegates called the Electoral College ultimately chooses US Presidents and the minimum amount of representatives per state is three. So imagine that Israel’s American citizens were our own state with two hundred thousand active voters and three electoral votes. What kind of changes could we make?

For starters, if we voted for Aaron Burr in 1800, Thomas Jefferson might have never gotten a chance to be President. And seventy-six years later in 1876 we could have swung the election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden.

More recently, the popular vote of the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon had a difference of merely 100,000. That means that if Israel put its entire electoral weight behind Richard Nixon that year, Nixon would have become President nearly ten years earlier. That means Watergate might have never happened!  That would be quite a change in history.

And no one could forget the historic 2000 Election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. As many would recall, the election pretty much came down to a recount in the State of Florida.

And if more Israeli voters from Florida voted for Gore, it’s possible that the years 2000 to 2008 would look very different.

Suffice it to say that the number of American voters that Israel could potentially muster up is extremely significant, which shows our importance in the American political landscape.

Exciting New Blog Feature

Hello American Voters from Israel and elsewhere!

As this campaign season continues to ramp up, the polls are tighter than ever, and with the first General Election Debate happening this upcoming Monday, it’s still anybody’s game.

We thought we would treat our audience to two terrific blog posts weighing in on the two major-party candidates in this election.

Over the next two days, we will feature a blog post from both a Democratic and Republican representative here in Israel to make the case for their candidate.

Tomorrow, we will start by posting the case for Hillary Clinton by Marni Mandell from Democrats Abroad-Israel, followed by the case for Donald Trump on Thursday by Abraham Katsman of Republicans Overseas Israel.

We hope you enjoy! If you do, please share the post with others on Facebook and elsewhere!

What Do Polls Mean Anyway?

For the past year leading up to November’s election we’ve been hearing a whole lot about polls. These days’ polls come in from every possible news source, research group or even from candidates themselves. Somehow, it’s all that seems to matter in the lead-up to an election. But what exactly are polls anyway, and what can we learn from them?

Essentially, polls are a way of determining public opinion at any given time. With regards to an election, polls attempt to indicate where a candidate stands vis a vis his or her opponents in the race.

Some polling is for public use, like the ones research centers like Pew or Quinnipiac use. Also, many news outlets generate polls to keep their audience in the loop for how the election is going (it’s a great way to build tension!)

However, some polls are for private use – mostly done by campaigns themselves in order to understand what their up against. Often these polls are most accurate but are used internally and never reach the public.

When done correctly, political polling is a scientific study of public opinion. Many research organizations go through the painstaking minutia of breaking down an area’s demographic makeup in order to come up with an accurate sample of the public.

But polls weren’t always conducted this way. Up until a hundred years ago, many public polls were what we call “straw polls” where journalists simply go out onto the street, ask people who they are going to vote for, and then tally the results.

Nowadays polls are serious business. Today, in order to be considered a legitimate poll the conducting organization has to list the methods they used in creating the poll. That includes how they sampled the audience, posed the question, and calculated the results. It can be pretty nitty-gritty stuff!

So can polls actually predict an election? Well yes and no. If a poll tends to indicate a very large lead on the part of one candidate, you can be pretty certain that that candidate will win. But when polls are close, it’s really anybody’s game.

An important thing to look at is what researchers call the “margin of error”. That is the figure the researchers use to show that the number they present for a candidate is really just an average, and you can expect the data to fall anywhere within that range – like a window of accuracy. Usually you will see a small number at the top of a poll i.e. “Margin of Error: +/- 3%”. That means that if a candidate is listed as having 45%, the researchers are saying that their data represents that the number could realistically fall anywhere from 42-48%.

According to RealClearPolitics, the presidential polls are tightening between Trump and Clinton, and they are within 3 points of each other, well within the margin of error.

Also, people might change their vote. After all, you can’t predict the unpredictable – like if one candidate has a large gaffe or does poorly in a debate. Just think about the last Israeli elections. Many polls had Herzog in the lead, but by the final tally, most of those polls were proven to be inaccurate.

Finally, when you look at political polls you will notice that they fall under two categories. “All registered voters” and “Likely voters”. The ‘all eligible voters’ category is valuable gauging the general public’s attitude towards the candidates or on specific issues or characteristics. However, at this stage in the campaign, when the focus is on who will actually win, emphasis is placed on who is indeed a likely voter. Which voters don’t think it is not worth their while to vote? Which voters want to vote but may not be able to on Election Day (elderly, disabled, bad weather, etc.)? And who would like to vote but are turned off the by the candidates, the coverage of the campaign, the deluge of political ads, etc.? And who is determined to vote despite all obstacles?

Voters in Israel contain all of those categories. Some are misinformed and believe that their vote won’t count. Some are overwhelmed with the process of voting from Israel. And some are turned off the behavior of the candidates.

And many others are determined to vote despite all those obstacles because they recognize that the election results will actually have tangible impacts on their future.

So while pollsters and pundits will continue to debate who is a ‘likely voter’ only you can determine if you will actually vote.

Your vote counts, and will make a difference. iVoteIsrael is here to ensure that you are able to vote. Regarding the candidates, we can no longer choose who our candidates will be, all that remains to be determined is whether the next US President will be chosen with your active participation or not. The choice is yours. Choose to vote.

Where Does Israel Fit In?

A quick recap of Israel’s role in the Republican and Democratic National Conventions

The national conventions for both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are over and done with. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have each accepted the nominations from their respective parties. Now, the official campaign begins as the major-party candidates are expected to butt heads all the way until November 8th, in what is sure to be a tumultuous election season.

If you watched the convention speeches, you might have missed any reference to one of the United States’ most salient allies: Israel. Many of the speeches dealt specifically with the domestic issues gripping the country at the moment: an insecure economy, a shrinking middle class, race relations and fears over terrorism and immigration.

According to this Times of Israel article, the lack of focus on Israel apparently meant that support for Israel took a back seat.

But it’s important to note that both candidates made very brief, yet very firm commitments to Israel’s security without giving any notion that there should be increased pressure against settlement building or advancing the peace process.

However, major critics of Israel made themselves known at both party conventions. At the RNC, the party was forced to shut down its live YouTube chat due to an overload of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist comments made by self-identified Trump supporters.

Meanwhile, at the DNC, protesters were seen burning Israeli flags outside of the hosting arena. But that very night, Bill Clinton was seen wearing a pin on his lapel, which said “Hillary” in Hebrew.

The anti-Zionist activities from both parties are clearly the work of a fringe group, as evidenced by the unprecedented support Israel still receives from the majority of Americans.

So don’t expect any big changes to major party platforms regarding Israel.

Many will see this as good news, and for those hoping to maintain the status quo between the US and Israel, no news is good news, as they say.

Faces of Israel: Donny and Chavie Fuchs

Faces of Israel: Donny and Chavie Fuchs

  1. Where are you from in Israel and America (what state do you vote from)?

Donny was born and raised in Far Rockaway, New York. Chavie was born in Palo Alto, California, and also lived in Englewood, New Jersey.

  1. Why did you (or your parents) make aliyah?

Decided it was time to act on our dream and join the Jewish people in building the Jewish state. By the way, both sets of our parents have also made Aliya over the last few years.

  1. What do you do professionally in Israel?  /when you were in the states?
Chavie works in digital advertising and Donny works at a high end- organic soap factory.
  1. When is the last time you voted?  in an off year (non Presidential – like this year) election?

The last U.S. Presidential elections.

  1. What do you feel about the state of the US-Israel relationship?
We feel very strongly that Israel is too reliant on the US’s opinions, to the point where it makes Israel weaker. Israel must not buckle under any pressure from the US. All relationships must be contingent on a dignified two way relationship based on mutual interests.
  1. Why do you feel it is important to vote?
The state of affairs in America endangers both America and Israel. We have an opportunity to reward politicians who care about America and Israel.
  1. Do you celebrate July 4 in Israel?
We don’t celebrate July 4. While we appreciate and have hakarot hatov that America historically was a temporary haven for Jews, our lives are committed to the Jewish people’s destiny within Israel. Having said that, Donny recalls with much fondness those 4th of July barbecues where he consumed a dozen or so hot dogs.
  1. What is something you miss about the US?
We miss our family and friends in the states. It’s especially difficult missing smachot: births, weddings. Donny misses the large expanses of wilderness that he used to visit, as well as the majestic American black bear that he often saw in the northeastern woods.
  1. What is something that US should start doing that Israel does?
The US could learn a lot from Israel’s model of maternity care in hospitals, in particular the lower number of interventions and the much lower cesarean rate.
      10.Do you feel that the “Arab Spring” is more of a threat to Israel/US/Both/Neither ?
 The Arab Spring is ultimately a threat to every country that doesn’t stand up against evil.
     11. What should the America be doing regarding Israel’s war with Hamas?
America should support Israel 100% or stay out of the way. As the bible states, those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who do not, well you know…America must realise that from a logical and a biblical perspective, truly supporting Israel will only serve to benefit America.
   12.What is your favorite Hebrew word?
Chavie: חביתה. Donny: צבוע

What should I do if my ballot has not arrived?

“What should I do if my ballot has not arrived?”
Not only is this a great question but our most frequently asked question as well,

OK, so your official ballot has not arrived and election day is fast approaching.Have no fear FWAB is here!

So what is FWAB?

FWAB is the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot. It serves as an alternative ballot for overseas voters whose ballots have not yet arrived.

The form will have blank spaces for you to fill in the candidate(s) that you want to vote for.
For more information on FWABs check out iVoteIsrael’s Helpdesk 

So now you know what an FWAB is and you can download your FWAB here.

You would then need to mail the ballots to your local election board (the address can be found here) and either mail it to the US, deliver it to the American Embassy or Consulate, or to one of iVoteIsreal dropboxes located in Jerusalem at both the AACI and the OU Center, and in Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion.

Faces of Israel: Sydney T.

Faces of Israel:  Sydney

 

  1. Where are you from in Israel and America (what state do you vote from)?

My current residence is in Rehovot, Israel. Originally I hail from California.

  1. Why did you (or your parents) make aliyah?

After finishing my M.A. I came to Israel to study and volunteer for a year. Although I had never been, the moment I stepped off of the plane, I knew that I was home. My body could not be in a place that my heart was not, so I packed my bags and moved.

  1. What do you do professionally in Israel?  /when you were in the states?

I was and continue to be a secondary school teacher and non-profit worker.

  1. When is the last time you voted?  in an off year (non Presidential – like this year) election?

My absentee ballot for the June election was sent off in May and I’m looking forward to the next in November!

  1. What do you feel about the state of the US-Israel relationship?

The US relies on Israel and Israel relies on the US; it’s a mutualistic symbiotic relationship that should be recognized and upheld. Unfortunately, the connections between my two countries are faltering at a time when unity and strength is of the utmost importance.

  1. Why do you feel it is important to vote?

For how many centuries have people fought for the right to be heard? For how long did women remain chattel without a say? For those that did not have our liberties and to protect these freedoms for the future, I vote.

  1. Do you celebrate July 4 in Israel?

When I finally get a yard, y’all are invited for a barbeque!

  1. What is something you miss about the US?

Burritos and customer service are the two items that initially came to mind.

  1. What is something that US should start doing that Israel does?

In sunny areas, like my native California, solar panels should be a must! It gives me great pride to tout that the Israeli government supports green energy initiatives.

  1. Do you feel that the “Arab Spring” is more of a threat to Israel/US/Both/Neither ?

The “Arab Spring” is both a threat and a promise to both Israel and the US. It is a threat because we knew what to expect from former dictators and with whom to reason. There is something to be said for professional leaders and a stable structure when it comes to politics. A promise for which I hope is that formerly oppressed voices will be heard. One positive outcome has been Egypt’s support of Israel in “Operation Protective Edge”. An unfortunate down-side to this is what we are seeing with ISIS.

  1. What should the America be doing regarding Israel’s war with Hamas?

It is America’s duty to support fellow democracies, especially in an area as volatile as the Middle East. With fanaticism on the rise, it is in the US’s best interest to keep Israel as a friend. The security information Israel provides on active terrorist cells is essential to both countries’ national security. This is not their war to fight, but we are all together in regard to global terrorism.

  1. What is your favorite Hebrew word?

“Tustus”, meaning a Vespa-type scooter, is hands-down my favorite word. I’m a lover of good onomatopoeias.

Faces of Israel: Seth Cogan

Faces of iVoteIsrael: Seth Cogan

  • Where are you from in America?

I am from Short Hills N.J.

  • Why did you or your parents make aliyah?

I made Aliyah because I believe Jews should live in Israel.

  • What do you do professionally in Israel?

Financial Advisor first in America and now in Israel.

  • When is the last time you voted?

US in 2008

  • What do you feel about the state of the US-Israel relationship?

Concerned

  • Why do you feel it is important to vote?

I’m not sure

  • Do you celebrate July 4 in Israel?

I don’t

  • What is something you miss about the US?

I miss Sundays

  • What is something that US should start doing that Israel does?

Less intrusive yet more effective security checks at airport

  • Do you feel that the “Arab Spring” is more of a threat to Israel/US/Both/Neither?

Keeps them busy fighting each other

  • What should the America be doing regarding Israel’s war with Hamas?

If you are a friend unconditional support.

  • What is your favorite Hebrew word?

HaShem

Faces of Israel: Yonit Schiller

Faces of Israel: Yonit Schiller

  • Where are you from?

Born in Tzfat but raised in Buffalo, New York.

 

  • Why did you or your parents make aliyah?

In the 70s, shortly after their marriage, my parents made aliyah because they believed in contributing to the destiny of the Jewish people. Twelve years later, the recession in the 80s caused my parents to leave, but they continued to inculcate those same values in me. I made aliyah because- very simply- this is home

 

  • What do you do professionally in Israel?

I am living my dream by working both as a professional photographer and tour guide. Please check out my website: www.yonitschiller.com

  • When is the last time you voted?

2012

  • What do you feel about the state of the US-Israel relationship?

Despite both of these democratic countries’ measure of friendship and alliance over the past six decades, U.S.- Israel relations are tangibly strained today.This is unfortunate, as we’ve been historic allies since the inception of the State of Israel: The United States was the first country to recognize Israel’s existence. Eleven minutes after David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence in 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman placed a call to officially congratulate the newly-found Jewish State.

  • Why do you feel it is important to vote?

I believe Gandhi got it right when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Sometimes, bringing about a change begins with a vote.

  • Do you celebrate July 4 in Israel?
  • %

Do they even count absentee ballots?

Yes, they do.  Every single one.

In fact, according to US federal law, a final vote count cannot be issued until every last absentee ballot has been counted.  In some cases, where the difference between two candidates is larger than the number of absentee ballots received, a winner is announced before all of the absentee ballots are counted, but no state’s electoral votes are considered officially one way or the other until each absentee ballot is counted.

Still skeptical about whether or not your vote counts?  Check out our short video about absentee voting here.  Ready to register already?  Click here and register to vote in 2 minutes or less.