Should elections be held on the Sabbath

Democrats are voting in the Nevada caucus and Republicans are voting in the South Carolina primary today.

I’ve been watching Morning Joe and they had a short piece regarding Jews who are conflicted by their desire to vote and their religious obligation not to work on the Sabbath.

I don’t see a problem because I always look to the spirit or purpose of a rule rather than the black letter expression of it when an ambiguity pops up.

I don’t think God or Moses was thinking about voting when they developed the 10 Commandments. I also don’t consider voting to qualify as work.

I am also not Jewish or particularly religious and I always question authority.

I do believe that accommodations should be made for those who want to vote but believe they cannot on the Sabbath. For example, voting by mail might work. That would not work with caucuses because they require attending and participating in a meeting.

Changing the day could work except that any other day would disadvantage someone. For example, people who work and cannot get off work to vote.

Replacing caucuses with pulling a lever in a voting booth shortens the time commitment but doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

What do y’all think?

16 Responses to Should elections be held on the Sabbath

  1. gblock says:

    I’m not sure if Orthodox Jews would consider voting to be work, but driving to a polling place would be. Walking there, if that is feasible, would be OK.

    There will always be some people who won’t be able to attend a caucus, since there are some kinds of work, for instance, police and ER doctors and other ER staff, where someone must be on duty at all times. If there isn’t a time when they can vote on voting day, there will normally be absentee or mail-in voting procedures. I suppose they could come up with some sort of proxy voting for such people at caucuses.

  2. bettykath says:

    I know the new voter id laws require a state issued id when voting at the polls. Is the id required when voting by mail? If so, is the id returned by the BoE? How long much the voter be without it before it’s returned. If it isn’t required, why not? Or, on a more positive not, those who have difficulty getting an id should just vote by mail. Of course, there is no guarantee that the mail in votes will be counted (based on sad observation at BoE after an election).

  3. Two sides to a story says:

    PS – anyone can do a mail-in ballot in California at any time for any reason. I always do all my voting by mail. I think far more people would vote if all voting was done by mail.

    • Trained Observer says:

      Have already voted via mail where Florida’s Presidential Preference Election is March 15. Florida is a “closed” state. Voters must vote their registered party ballot. Independents are screwed when there’s no independent candidate.

      • That’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

      • bettykath says:

        I like the idea of party members picking their own candidates. If independents want to pick a candidate they need to join a party or start one of their own. Some pitfalls of letting anyone vote in a primary is that the party can end up with its weakest possible candidate by infiltration of those advocating for someone else or it can end up with someone who doesn’t agree with the party platform.

        There are many parties but there are two that have a lock on the media and the voting process. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News is an expert on the various parties with at least 20 years of experience. He knows the parties, where they are active, relative strength of the parties, ballot access laws in each state, etc.

  4. Two sides to a story says:

    The so-called Sabbath varies among Judeo-Christian sects. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath – meaning use your head!

    As a Buddhist, every day is a holy day, and all are meant to be lived with wisdom, discernment, and compassion. Voting is a necessary part of life and can be accomplished with awareness on any day.

  5. Dave says:

    As far as I know, every state permits mail-in ballots for anyone who has a credible reason for not being able to vote in person. This should apply to primaries as well as elections.

    Caucuses, however are different. Caucuses are run by political parties–not the government. they conduct their caucuses by their own rules, just as they conduct their nominating conventions by their own rules.

    If I was a party official in a state with a significant number of observant Jewish voters I would do whatever was necessary to accommodate them, including dumping the caucus system in favor of a primary with the option of mail-in voting.

    • I feel the same way, but cost is a factor. Better for the state to pay for and run the primaries. Cost is the major reason why some states use caucuses and they are an absolute mess.

      • Dave says:

        Actually, I believe that caucuses are used mainly as a means to keep the nomination process under the control of the party establishment. It takes much more time and effort to participate in a caucus than it does to mark a ballot and this tends to limit participation to seriously committed party faithful.

  6. Trained Observer says:

    If you don’t want to vote on the sabbath, the vote by mail (sometimes called absentee), or participate in early voting. Excercise your right to vote and quit belly-aching over excuses not to, imo.

  7. Rachael says:

    I thought a workplace was required to give workers time off to vote, though I understand someone not being able to get away. But yes, there are Jews that observant. Though I am Jewish, I am not observant to that degree, but I grew up with many families who were. The state in which I live, Washington, voting is done by mail.

  8. Malisha says:

    I think there are always provisions for voting early or mail-in or something to take care of the problem that comes up.

  9. bettykath says:

    NYS has only one day to vote plus absentee ballots. NM has several days to vote. Some countries have a work holiday for voting, of course, some people have to work on holidays. I think having 3-4 days for voting, or an entire week, is best, plus absentee ballots. That will give the computer hackers more time to figure out how much they gave to mess with the results, rather than just overnight. 😦

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