On February 8th 2011, the Palestinian government set a date for local elections in the West Bank and Gaza. The date was set as 9th July 2011. This will be the first Palestinian vote held since 2006.
According to the Central Elections Committee (CEC) schedule, candidatesí registration will start on May 25 and will go on for 10 days. Campaigning will officially open on June 25.
CEC figures said 75% of the Palestinians who are allowed to vote have registered. It said 81% are in the West Bank and only 67% are in the Gaza Strip. Total number of registered Palestinians is 1,437,965 out of a total 1,916,803 eligible voters.
In 2010, a similar vote had been announced for 17th July but had been cancelled just hours before the candidatesí registration period was due to close because Hamas vowed to ignore the elections.
The 2011 elections will be held in accordance with Local Council Elections Law No. 10 of 2005
The eligible voter must be:
- Of Palestinian nationality
- 18 years or above on polling day,
- Registered in the final voters' list
- Registered in the electoral district where he intends to cast his/her vote.
- Not deprived from exercising the right to vote vide a legal decision.
Palestinians ID holders living abroad are eligible to vote if they have registered and are in Palestine on elections day.
- Registration of eligible voters: A potential registrant presents an application to the registration center staff who then verifies the accuracy of the information.
- Data entry of information: The registration staff collects all the records of registered voters and passes them on to the CECís data entry center. All the data is entered into a database specifically designed for the CEC. The data is processed to eliminate duplicate entries, resulting in the preliminary voters list.
- Exhibition and challenge of the preliminary voters list: The preliminary voters list is exhibited in all registration centers. A registered voter who cannot find her/his name on the preliminary voters list or who finds an error in her/his information may submit a challenge to the exhibition and challenge staff. A registered voter may also challenge the eligibility of another person on the list. The challenge must be submitted, in writing, to the centerís staff within five days of publication of the voters list.
- Resolution of challenges: The exhibition and challenge staff decides on the legitimacy of a challenge. The staff must decide on the challenge within seven days of submission.
- Appeals: The decision of the exhibition and challenge staff may be appealed to the Central Elections Commission or electoral appeals court.
- Final voters list: Once all the challenges to the preliminary voters list have been resolved and all the corrections have been made, the preliminary list becomes the final list for polling purposes.
Polling and counting centers are usually located in the same place as the registration centers. They have up to five polling stations depending on the population distribution in the surrounding district. The polls are open from 7 am to 7pm on Election Day.
Each voter gets one ballot paper on which he/she puts an (x) in the box next to the list of his/her choice.
When the last voter has voted, the ballot box will be sealed and the counting procedure will begin. Ballot counting takes place in front of local and international observers, party and candidate agents, and the media.
Each local authority is considered one electoral district. The number of the council's members in each local authority is allocated in proportion to the population in the population center to which the local authority is affiliated.
- Municipalities are administered by a council composed of 15 members.
- Local authorities where population exceeds 15 thousand, localities are administered by a 13 member council.
- Local authorities whose population exceeds 5 thousand are run by a council of 11 members.
- Local authorities where population is between 1000-5000 are administered by a council of 9 members.
Nomination for local council elections is carried out based on the system of full proportional representation, or the ďlistsĒ system. Each list is considered a closed list in terms of the candidate order. Candidates are ordered based on candidate priority. The number of candidates in the list should not exceed the number of seats allocated to the local authority council.
Any candidate nominated in the electoral lists should be at least 25 years old on Election Day. He/she should be registered in the final voters list for the district he/she wishes to be nominated in. He/she should be free on felony convictions. He/she should not be an employee of the Ministry of Local Government; a member of the security forces; or an employee, a president, or a council member in the local authority unless he/she submit his/her resignation attached to the nomination application. He/she should reside within the local authority he/she is running in for a period no less than one year on the date of elections, and shall not be a candidate in another district or list.
Representation of women in the list
In local councils whose seats do not exceed 13, no less than 2 seats shall be allocated for women. Each list shall include a minimum level of representation for women, not less than:
- At least one woman among the first five names.
- At least one woman among the next five names that follow.
In local authorities whose seats exceed 13, all lists shall place a woman among the next five names, following the requirements in the previous paragraph.
Local authorities whose final voters list contain less than one thousand voters shall be excluded from the above requirements. In this case, the lists are free to choose the order of women among their candidates.
In the event that a woman's seat in the local council becomes vacant, then it shall be occupied by the woman whose name appears next in the list.
The electoral campaign period shall start two weeks prior to polling day and shall be closed twenty four hours before that day. The Executive Authority and all the bodies affiliated thereto shall maintain an impartial position during all of the phases of the electoral process. It is prohibited to organize festivals and hold meetings in mosques and churches, or near hospitals and buildings or premises used by governmental or public institutions. It is also prohibited for nominated lists to directly or indirectly receive funds for their electoral campaigning from any foreign sources.
Every electoral list taking part in the elections will submit to the Central Elections Commission, within a maximum period of a month from the date of announcement of the final election results, a detailed report of the lists financial resources, including total amounts spent. The CEC may request that the financial statements be audited by a legal auditor.
Winning of seats
Each list which obtains eight percent or more of the valid votes are allocated a number of seats in proportion to the number of valid votes obtained. The seats are allocated to the candidates according to the order of their names in the list based on the Sainte-Lague method for the allocation of seats.
Electoral crimes are punishable by law with either imprisonment, a fine, or both. Electoral crimes include: bribery, buying votes, influencing voters, pretending to be another voter and voting more than once.
- Lending of money, whether directly or indirectly, to voters in order to influence their decision or prevent them from exercising their right to vote is considered an electoral offence.
- The use of force, violence or the threat of violence or force in order to influence voters' decisions or prevent them from exercising their right to vote is considered an electoral crime.
- The use of false documents to prove identity, or voting without having the right to vote, or assuming the name or personality of another voter, or voting more than once are considered electoral crimes, punishable by law.
Proclamation of results
- The CEC announces elections results within a maximum period of 72 hours following the closing of the counting process and issues official certificates for the election winners.
- Election results must include the number of votes obtained by each list and the number of seats won by each list.
Central Elections Committee