NEW YORK (Jul. 24)
The New York City Board of Elections will consider at a meeting Friday a request for a-change of dates for local voter registration next October which-are in conflict with Jewish Holy Days, Leonard Silverman, a Brooklyn member of the New York State Assembly, said today.
Silverman and S. Elly Rosen, executive director of the Association of Jewish Anti-Poverty Workers, sent letters to the Board of Elections after the board set Oct. 9-10 and Oct. 13 for registration. They pointed out, in separate letters, that Succoth begins at 5 p.m. Oct. 10 and that Oct. 13 falls on a Saturday.
Silverman said, in his letter to Commissioner Gumersindo Martinez that “as a practical matter, the observant Jew of New York City is losing approximately one-half of his time to register,” a situation, he said, that was “not in keeping with the constitutional equalities that should be present.”
Silverman prepared and introduced legislation which was signed by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller two years ago which eliminated all elections in New York State on Saturdays or Sundays. A similar law was passed by the New York City Council. Silverman said that while elections were eliminated on Saturdays, it appeared that registration for those elections apparently are still continuing on Saturdays “and even on Jewish Holy Days.”
WILL SEEK COURT TEST
Impetus for the state and city laws stemmed from a battle over elections on Saturdays for the boards of the city’s anti-poverty agencies. After dates for such elections were repeatedly set on Saturdays over strong protests by poor Jews in those areas, as well as by Jewish organizations, Silverman prepared the bills which now ban elections on Saturdays and Sundays.
Rosen, in his letters to Thomas Wallace, New York State elections bureau director, and to James Siket, administrative manager of the City Board of Elections, said the registration dates “will allow the observant Jewish community only one-third of the time given other voters for local registration, board inspectors and poll watchers”
Silverman, in reporting that the issue would be before the Board of Elections at its meeting Friday, said that if the board insisted on a differentiation between dates for registration and dates for voting, in applying the state and city laws, he would seek a court test on any such board action. Election board officials were not immediately available for comment.