A summons and complaint were served today by the New York State Supreme Court on the State, the City of New York and the New York City Board of Elections ordering them to show cause why they should not be enjoined and restrained from conducting voter registrations on the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish holidays. The court order, which includes a temporary stay of registration, was signed Friday by State Supreme Court Justice Murray T. Feiden. A hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday morning at the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
The court action was initiated by the Association of Jewish Anti-Poverty Workers on the complaint of an AJAPW member, Mordechai Rosen, a resident of Brooklyn. The Association acted after receiving a letter from NY Secretary of State John P. Lomenzo informing it that the State would take no action to change local voter registration dates which conflict with Jewish holidays. The effect is to deprive observant Jews of their voting rights, the AJAPW contends.
Rosen stated in his affidavit that “of a total registration period established for the City of New York of 25 1/2 hours, I am limited to 8 1/2 hours…Although I am certain that I, as an individual may find the time to actually register, (the) prohibitions observed by an Orthodox Jew will prevent a large group of Orthodox Jews from registering and works a serious detriment upon them.”
A canvas of the State’s 62 counties by the AJAPW disclosed that in six of them voter registration is on Oct. 6 and 13. The former date is Yom Kippur and the latter a Saturday. Eleven counties, including NY City’s five boroughs, have scheduled Succoth, a Saturday and an additional day for voter registration, and 45 counties would have registration only on Succoth and a Saturday. the AJAPW reported.
SETBACK IN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
Rosen is represented in his complaint by Assemblyman Leonard Silverman. Silverman is the sponsor of legislation signed into law in 1972which prohibits elections on Saturday or Sunday and stipulates that “the equal protection intent of the law should also extend to registration days.”
Silverman, who noted that the NY State election time-table specifically excludes Sunday as a registration day observed: “This points out even more clearly that the Sabbath day of one religious group should not be violated by registration on that day, but that the Sabbath day of the Jewish population of the State of New York must be violated.”
In a Friend of the Court brief filed by the AJAPW, its executive director, S. Elly Rosen, stated, “A State law which mandates Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day for voter registration cannot be spoken of as a step closer to equal opportunity. When this unjust law is compounded by County Boards of Election selecting Jewish Holy Days as additional days for such registration quite the contrary becomes clear, that in fact, we have taken two steps backwards in the fight for equal opportunity for all citizens.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.