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Scottish Jewish umbrella group says no to scheduling Saturday independence vote

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(JTA) — The umbrella group for Jewish communities in Scotland will ask the country’s government to refrain from holding a vote on Scottish independence on a Saturday. 

In a draft response on the Scottish government’s Your Scotland, Your Referendum proposal, leaders of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities write that a ballot on a Saturday "would disadvantage Jewish voters since those who observe Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) would not be able to vote on the day of the referendum."

One question on the government’s proposal asks, "What are your views on the idea that the referendum could be held on a Saturday?"

The reason for the proposed change is to bring out more voters. Elections are currently held in Scotland on Thursdays.

In its draft response, the Jewish council also says that alternative methods for voting for those who cannot get to the polls on Election Day "do not provide an entirely satisfactory solution."

Voting by mail, the council writes in its response posted on its website, "although permissible, is not without drawbacks, since it requires a voter to decide how to cast his or her vote well before the end of the campaign. Equality of opportunity requires that no-one should be compelled to vote by post on account of his or her religion, which would be the case if the referendum were to be held on a Saturday."

The response also expresses concern that Jewish people would be turned down for referendum-related jobs if they could not work on the day of the poll.

The council is still consulting with Jewish leaders before issuing its final response, according to reports. 

In Scotland’s most recent census, in 2001, some 6,580 people identified themselves as Jewish, accounting for 0.13 percent of the country’s total population.
 

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