Voting in the Israeli elections

Q: What should we say to the Ultra-Orthodox who say that since the Satmar Rebbe wrote in the book "Va-Yoel Moshe" that it is forbidden to vote in elections in the State of Israel – "it is preferable to sit and not act"?
A: The Chazon Ish already spoke about this issue and said that it is a mitzvah to vote. His students asked him: a mitzvah like matzah? He said: ‘No, a mitzvah like maror.’ It is possible to say that it is a mitzvah like matzah. It is correct that if we do not vote it is a case of "sit and do not act" since other people do go and vote. We are always crying and staging all types of protests in order to influence the Government. This is an opportunity to influence the Government without the need to protest. The Chatam Sofer says in his responsa that there were local elections and someone later complained. The Chatam Sofer asked him: then why didn’t you vote? It is true that the Government of Israel is not the ideal Government we want but we do not say: it is all or nothing. There are many discussions in the Gemara that even if it is impossible to fix everything, we should fix what we can. The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (16a) says that Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi paid money in order to delay the sacrifice of idol worship to another day. The Gemara explains that he wanted to uproot the sacrifice altogether but he was doing it gradually, step-by-step. The Gemara in Sotah (48a) says that if men sing and women answer, it is lewd. If women lead and men answer then lust flares like burning chips of flax, since men have to listen carefully to the women's voice. The Gemara asks: What difference does it make - both are forbidden?! Answer: If one cannot stop both, he should prevent the latter, since it is more severe (Rashi). The Rashba (vol. 5 #238) wrote that if you cannot fix everything, fix what you can. It is true that we will not elect King David by going to vote, but we should influence the Government to follow Torah law as much as possible. We have an obligation to do this. I have learned the book "Va-Yoel Moshe" and it is difficult to understand his proofs in relation to the State of Israel. I have a relative who is a Satmar Chasid. I once visited him when I was on "shelichut" in America and he told me: The Satmar Rebbe once showed his book to a Dayan (Judge) on the Beit Din of Satmar. After some time, he asked: "Did his honor look in my book?" He did not and he said: "It is not enough to just look in his honor’s book, it requires study." The Satmar Rebbe waited some time. He then asks: "Did his honor study my book?" The Dayan saw that he could not avoid the question so he said: "If this book is based on sources from the Gemara, I do not understand what is written there. If it is based on the 'Ruach Ha-Kodesh – Divine Spirit' of his honor the Rebbe – then what can I say?" This it is how a Dayan on the Beit Din of Satmar responded. He also said that there were things which are not understandable. The Satmar Rebbe wrote in the book that it is forbidden to speak Hebrew; one must speak Yiddish and before that Aramaic was spoken. King David and King Shlomo spoke Aramaic?! The whole Nation spoke Aramaic then? It is possible to prove otherwise. It is difficult to understand many things in this book. Therefore, even if we are not completely happy with many things that are happening in the State of Israel – and there are many things about which we are not thrilled – we influence what we can. This is called by the halachic authorities: "To save what can be saved."