May 11, 2020 — Washington, D.C.
Today, in a virtual briefing, more than 125 participants from the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), members of their staff and others, discussed with Israeli elections officials how to keep polling places safe, and ensure voter turnout during the coronavirus pandemic.
In partnership with American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Project Interchange, the Israeli officials participating were Israeli Central Elections Committee Director-General Orly Adas and Chief Legal Counsel Dean Livne.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, election officials both here in the U.S. and around the world are working day and night to keep our elections, voters and poll workers safe. During this unprecedented time, it is hugely important to work with our allies like Israel to ask questions and learn from one another. Today’s briefing was an excellent conversation and I look forward to continued dialogue,” said Paul Pate, NASS President and Iowa Secretary of State.
In March, Israel conducted national elections, with precautions instituted to ensure voting and safeguarding of Israel’s election sites, voters and poll workers. Special "pop up" polling locations were staffed by paramedics wearing protective suits and masks. Voters and polling station staff were physically separated. Israel's Health Ministry allowed those under quarantine who were asymptomatic to vote, so long as they wore face masks and gloves, did not use public transportation and followed other directives. As a result voter turnout on March 2 was the highest since 1999.
"Israel's experience conducting elections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic can provide important lessons for American state officials contemplating how to organize polling places to ensure the safety of voters and election workers," said Nisha Abkarian, AJC Project Interchange Director.
Today’s briefing is the second time the organizations have worked together. In December 2019, a bipartisan delegation of 11 NASS members led by association President Paul Pate visited Israel with AJC Project Interchange. They participated in discussions on cybersecurity policies and practices at the state, local, and federal level as it relates to business services, election administration, and records management.
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AJC Project Interchange: For over 35 years, AJC Project Interchange (American Jewish Committee) has brought 6,000 influential figures to Israel from 110+ countries and all 50 U.S. states, offering broad exposure and first-hand understanding of the complex issues facing Israel and the region. www.projectinterchange.org
National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS): Founded in 1904, NASS is the nation's oldest, nonpartisan professional organization for public officials. NASS serves as a medium for the exchange of information between states and fosters cooperation in the development of public policy. The association has key initiatives in the areas of elections and voting, state business services, and state heritage/archives. https://www.nass.org