3rd LD-Writethru: Israeli elections see probably lowest turnout since 2009: official

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JERUSALEM, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Turnout in Israel's fourth parliamentary elections in two years may have dropped to its lowest rate since 2009, an official said on Tuesday evening.

Orly Ades, head of the Central Elections Committee which oversees the elections, told reporters at a news conference that by 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) only 51.5 percent of the eligible voters have voted, adding unless a significant increase will be shown in the turnout before the closing of the ballots at 10 p.m. (2000 GMT), it would be the lowest voting rate in Israel since 2009.

She said the turnout by 6 p.m. was 4.8 percent lower than that in the previous round of elections held in September 2020.

The voting began at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) in 13,685 polling stations throughout the country.

The vote is widely seen as a referendum on the suitability of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to serve another term in office when facing a criminal trial over corruption charges.

Exit polls will be published at 10 p.m. by Israel's main TV channels and the first official results are expected early Wednesday morning. Enditem

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