Baltimore (Jul. 10)
Fifteen thousand Jews in Baltimore will be unable to cast their ballots in the gubernatorial election in the Fall unless they ignore the tenets of their religion and register on important Jewish holidays, the Jewish New Year and the Feast of Tabernacles. This was declared yesterday in a ruling by Willis R. Jones, Assistant Attorney-General of Maryland.
The opinion by Mr. Jones was written in reply to a request from Robert B. Ennis, president of the Board of Supervisors of Elections, to whose attention the matter was brought by State Senator Harry O. Levin.
Mr. Jones is counsel to the board, and his opinion is as follows:
“You have called my attention to the fact that all four of the registration days fixed for this year will fall upon important Jewish holidays. Rosh Hashonah, or the Jewish New Year, will fall on September 23 and 24, and the Feast of Tabernacles will be observed on October 7 and 8.
“You request me to advise you whether there is any method by which the registration days may be changed so as to accommodate those members of the Jewish faith who would not register on one of these days.
“The days of registration are fixed by Section 20 of Article 33 of the code of public general laws. The Board of Supervisors of Elections has no authority to change the time fixed by the Legislature for the registration of voters or to grant any additional time for that purpose. While I regret very much that the registration days fixed by law will fall upon these important holidays, I know of no method by which this unfortunate situation can be remedied until the Legislature changes the law.”
Under absolute conformance to the Jewish religion, no Jew may sign his name on either of the holidays. To this it is believed the Orthodox Jews will adhere firmly. As the Reform Jews do not observe so closely the dictates of the faith, it is thought many, if not all, of them will register, at least, on the last day of Succoth, October 8. This would leave approximately 7,500 Jews disfranchised this fall.
The ruling also presents another task to the board supervisors. Many of the judges and clerks of the polling places in some sections of the city are Jewish. This will entail the necessity of the appointment of Gentile substitutes, since few Jews, Reform or Orthodox, would serve on any registry board on at least three of the four holy days.
The registration for the November state-wide election is general in Baltimore city only.