NEW YORK (Jun. 27)
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D. W. Va.) has drastically altered an election campaign reform bill he is sponsoring in order to accommodate the needs of religious Jews. According to Rabbi Moshe Sherer, executive president of the Agudath Israel of America, Byrd, the Senate Majority Whip, has dropped his proposal to advance election day by one month–to the first Tuesday in Oct.
He abandoned it when it was brought to his attention by Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) that the change would disenfranchise observant Jews because Jewish holidays frequently fall on the first Tuesday in Oct., Rabbi Sherer said.
Sen, Byrd’s measure is aimed at shortening the length of federal election campaigns. Rabbi Sherer said that the commission on legislation of the Agudath Israel prepared a chart which showed that had his change been instituted in 1965, religious Jews would have been unable to vote in the 1965, 1968, and 1971 elections because Jewish holidays began at sundown on the day preceding the first Tuesday in Oct. in those years.
Sen. Byrd will introduce a new measure which would have the effect of reducing the campaign period by holding primary elections in Aug. instead of June. Rabbi Sherer said that Sen. Javits played a major role in personally presenting the religious consequences of his bill to Sen. Byrd.