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New Orleans Jews Fight Law Requiring Elections to Be Held on Saturday

An emergency committee of board members of the Jewish Federation of New Orleans, headed by Label A. Katz, president of the Jewish Welfare Fund, began an uphill fight today for repeal of a new state law requiring the holding of all state primary elections on Saturday. The measure was passed by both houses of the Louisiana legislature without fanfare and signed immediately by Gov. Earl K. Long.

It was not until after the Governor signed the measure into law that the Jewish community became aware of it. Rabbis and lay leaders protested without success. In a letter signed by Nat Friedler, president of the Federation, to Gov. Long, it was pointed out that Saturday was a religious holiday to Jews and to “Christian citizens who are members of the Seventh Day Adventists church.”

The letter asked for new legislation either to change the day of primary elections “or grant the privilege of advance absentee voting by persons whose religious convictions require them to refrain from voting on the Sabbath or on a religious holiday.” In his reply, Gov. Long denied any intent to discriminate and said the bill had been motivated by a desire to expedite voting by rural residents who could best go to the polls on a day they did not spend in the fields. Most Louisiana farmers bring their produce to market on Saturday.

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