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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Voting Vicissitudes

We've seen stories like this one before:
A Davidson County voter has sued the local election commission because Nashville's runoff election is scheduled on a Jewish high holy day.
Elinor Gregor's attorney George Barrett said the decision to hold an election on Rosh Hashana deprives Jewish voters.

A runoff election will be held only if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes. The general election for mayor, vice mayor and Metro Council is August 2nd.

The city's legal department recommended the September 13th date based on the city's charter. The election commission voted for it 3-to-2 last month.

The legal opinion said there are options for voting early or by absentee ballot.
I understand that the options for voting early or by absentee ballot exist, but the question really is whether a date like this should be chosen for an election, especially when all indications are that the decision was made with full knowledge that the day is such an important Jewish holiday. We are talking about Rosh Hashana, a holiday that shows up on just about every secular calendar out there. This story shows that at least the candidates in the race are not happy with the decision:
Nashville's mayoral candidates made an election promise they're in no position to keep, but their opposition to holding a potential runoff election on a Jewish holy day could put more pressure on Metro to change the date.

The candidates told a gathering at the Gordon Jewish Community Center in West Meade on Thursday night that holding the election on Rosh Hashana is not acceptable, and all vowed that it will be changed.

..Candidate Karl Dean, a former Metro law director, compared it to having an election on Christmas Day.

The candidates met Thursday in a building that may serve as an early voting site for Jewish Nashvillians who can't vote on that election day. All six candidates present said Mayor Bill Purcell's proposed solution, setting up early voting sites in the Jewish community, is unacceptable.

"When the election commission was asked how to deal with the conflict of dates, we gave an opinion that was insensitive to this issue," candidate David Briley said.

Briley, an at-large Metro councilman, said he supports a lawsuit filed by Davidson County resident Elinor J. Gregor against the election commission and its members over the issue.
I am quite sure that I will get comments opining that the early voting is a "reasonable accommodation", and that this is really no big deal. But seriously, we're talking about Rosh Hashana. I do feel that an alternate date could - and should - have been worked out.

Related: I, II

17 Comments:

Anonymous HAGTBG said...

1. Was the date chosen with the awareness this was Rosh HaShana? It seems not from the articles. It also seems every candidate is committed to this being changed. In that sense I wonder what your story is.

On the other hand, one candidate is Jewish so it makes one wonder if the motivation is truly benign. Yet, thats not what you focused on.

2. For a Jew this is obviously a big deal and, no, changing the date for Jews only simply isn't acceptable.

At the same time, relevant issues are how many Jews there are in Nashville (that observe Rosh Hashana) and why other surrounding days are not acceptable. If there were 10 Jews in Nashville, then I don't think the electorate should have to accomodate every fringe group. On the other hand, a major candidate is Jewish and there are more than 10 Orthodox Jews there, let alone other denominations.

3. Finally, we should realize the chance that even if the date changes, they are only following the Reform Rosh HaShana, i.e. the first day only.

11:39 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

1. Was the date chosen with the awareness this was Rosh HaShana? It seems not from the articles. It also seems every candidate is committed to this being changed. In that sense I wonder what your story is.

It is made clear from the articles that the board of elections knew that the date was Rosh Hashana, yet on advice from their legal counsel, chose to schedule the runoff on that date anyway. They felt that the alternate date was sufficiently accommodating to Jews. The fact that candidates are committed to getting it changed means next to nothing - as the part of the article I quote mentions, they have no say in the decision whatsoever.


On the other hand, one candidate is Jewish so it makes one wonder if the motivation is truly benign. Yet, thats not what you focused on.


As I pointed out above, the election committee admits openly that they knew that the date was Rosh Hashana before they voted to keep it. So when you say "benign" do you mean "unknowingly"? Or do you mean that they could have somehow knowingly scheduled the date on Rosh Hashana while "benignly" meaning no ill will toward the community they were disenfranchising? Beacuse I don't see any knowing disenfranchisement as "benign".

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.savesd15.blogspot.com/

A site concerned with the children of our district, objective and understands the education laws of new york state

3:31 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

a. Here in Israel, secularists in various working places also goof up on the calendar and schedule events, okay, not for Rosh hashan, but almost everything in-between.
b. My former neighbor here in Shiloh, Richard Kantor is a native Nashvillian and I'm sure he'd have something to say.
c. Had trouble with your site OM. Sort of smei-freezes and takes maybe 30 seconds or so to be fully displayed. Anybody else having that problem?

d. come on, blog about Shia LaBoeuf.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been having a problem on my computers as well.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is the major candidate that is jewish?

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