18 national Jewish organizations across the country let Iowa’s two state party chairmen know they don’t like the idea of holding caucuses on a Saturday next year. Here’s a copy of the letter sent to the chairs:
“Dear Mr. Kiernan and Mr. Strawn:
“A central premise of American politics is the enfranchisement of every citizen. The Jewish community has actively campaigned for fair and equal representation for the voices of majority and minorities alike, the protection of civil rights of all people and unencumbered access for all to the processes that choose our elected leaders. Our nation has thrived because of the tremendous opportunities afforded to people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious and other backgrounds. For this reason, we are distressed to learn that the Democratic and Republican parties of Iowa have decided to hold their 2010 caucuses on a Saturday.
“The decision to move the Iowa political party caucuses to a Saturday effectively disenfranchises members of the Jewish community. Jews who observe the Sabbath could not work on caucus day to support their candidates of choice. Worse, since caucuses do not allow for absentee voting, there would be essentially no opportunity to participate in this important process. This is utterly inconsistent with the values of our pluralistic democracy.
“Voting and participation in the electoral process is a cornerstone of any democracy. It is the highest civic duty most people ever undertake. Saturday caucuses will force members of the Iowa Jewish community to choose between their faith and their civic duties.
“Given the important role Iowa has in our nation’s electoral contests and their leadership position in serving as a role model to other states, we respectfully ask and hope the Democratic and Republican parties to reverse this ill‐considered this move.”
The statement was endorsed by The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA); American Jewish Committee; American Jewish Congress; Anti-Defamation League; B’nai B’rith International; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America; Jewish Labor Committee; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish War Veterans; National Council of Jewish Women; National Jewish Democratic Council; ORT America; Orthodox Union; Rabbinical Assembly; Republican Jewish Coalition; Union for Reform Judaism; and United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism.