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Del. Primary Falls on Jewish Holiday

September 01, 2002|From the Washington Post

Delaware Jewish groups have long complained that their state's primary elections are held, by law, on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath. But this year, that election will also fall on Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar.

"It's a slap in the face," says Jack Shadduck, who runs a Web site catering to Jewish Delawarians and compares the plan to scheduling an election on Easter.

State law requires the election to be held on the first Saturday after the first Monday in September; this year, that is Sept. 7. The Legislature had considered a bill that would have delayed the contest by a week. But after election officials said it would be too expensive and too difficult to move the contest, the legislation died.

The state is allowing those with religious observances that conflict with the election to file absentee ballots. For months, synagogues, community centers and activists have been circulating information among the state's 13,000 Jews on how they can get their ballots.

But many still consider the state's plans insulting; the Delaware News Journal called them "callous." And some, such as Democratic congressional candidate Steve Biener, who is Jewish, fear the schedule will dampen Jewish turnout. He is encouraging use of the absentee ballots but says he plans to go to the polls.

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