Five patients are hospitalized in the corona ward of Ziv Hospital in Safed. Shortly after breakfast is passed out, they begin voting in the 24th Knesset elections.
The special ballot box is placed on empty beds. The secretary of the local elections committee, Victor Cohen (44) from Safed, stands next to the ballot box in head-to-toe personal protective equipment. The ward’s cameras monitor what is going on in the room.
In his day-to-day, Cohen works as the hospital's computer technician. For many years, in every election, he has signed up to work as a poll secretary in locations across the North.
The regional election committee already knows him, so he was approached early to volunteer to serve as secretary at the corona polls. Cohen knows what it means to be in the corona ward, and therefore also agreed immediately.
"It's a very big responsibility and satisfaction to go into these places in order to allow people to vote," he says with a smile.
In these current elections, the fourth in two years, a widespread effort has been made to allow those in quarantine or ill with coronavirus to vote. Drive-in polls and special taxi service were set up for people in quarantine, and ballot boxes were brought to corona wards around the country. Despite this, the voting turnout was markedly low, with 67% of those eligible actually casting their ballot.
One by one, the patients pause their morning routine to vote. The nurses help those who are able to get out of bed to exercise their democratic right.
Although the ballot box, one in five patients decides not to vote. Cohen smiles under the mask: "What can I do, not everyone wants to."
At eight-thirty, breakfast continues but voting is over. The ballot box with four ballots in double envelopes is signed off and wrapped in plastic. In the evening, members of the hospital's election committee will wear protective gear and sit in a secluded space, to count the four votes of the corona ward along with all the other votes in the hospital’s central ballot box.