Move to Force State to Halt Voter Registration on Friday Nights, Saturdays

Leonard Silverman, a Brooklyn member of the New York State Assembly, said today a meeting is planned in Albany next week with Secretary of State John Lomenzo to determine whether the state can force local governments to change voter registration dates that fall on a Friday night or Saturday and thereby discriminate against observant Jews.

Silverman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that if the discussion indicates that the state does not have this power, he will bring injunction proceedings against both the State Bureau of Elections and the City Board of Elections. He said S. Elly Rosen, executive director of the Association of Jewish Anti-Poverty Workers, with whom he has been working on the problem, will attend the conference with Lomenzo.

The issue has become urgent in New York City because the city Board of Elections rejected yesterday a request from Silverman and from Rosen for a change in the fall voter registration dates of Oct. 9-10 and Oct. 13. Succoth begins on the eve of Oct. 10, and Oct. 13 is a Saturday. The 10-member city elections board approved a motion to retain those dates.

Rosen said he had received today a telephone call from Lomenzo in which the state official said he was pleased that the issue had been raised. Lomenzo said, according to Rosen, that he was examining the possibilities for state action, which would apply also to 14 counties where local registration dates this year include Saturdays in Oct.

Silverman prepared legislation which was adopted by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller two years ago which bans elections–city, state and federal–on Saturdays and Sundays but does not refer to registrations specifically. Silverman also said he was planning legislation for the 1974 session of the Legislature which will extend the ban on Saturday elections to voter registration.

Reports received in London from Jewish sources in the Soviet Union stated that two Jewish activists of Moscow, Lev Libov and Lev Levitin, have received their exit visas and will be leaving soon for Israel.

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