Federal judge turns down D.C. election lawsuit


(JTA) — A federal judge said he would not force the District of Columbia elections board to change the date of an election on the last day of Passover.

Judge Emmet Sullivan was responding during an April 15 hearing to a lawsuit filed by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of the Washington synagogue Ohev Sholom, who said in his lawsuit that efforts by the District of Columbia Board of Elections to expand early voting opportunities for observant Jewish voters in a special election for an at-large council member and two Board of Education members were inadequate.

Herzfeld said in the lawsuit that he wants the election board to change the April 26 date or to extend voting by two hours, to 10 p.m., so that he and his congregants can vote in person on Election Day.

The judge also turned down the request to extend the elections hours. He said the conflict with Passover is only a "limited burden," while early and absentee voting options are enough, according to The Washington Post.

Observant voters may vote early at the board’s headquarters in downtown Washington, which Herzfeld says is inconvenient to his congregants in northern Washington, or may apply for an absentee ballot.

The Board of Elections has sent absentee ballots and information on early voting to Jewish congregations and groups.

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