A federal judge on April 15 denied a rabbi’s request to move a special election in Washington, D.C., which coincides with the final day of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Polls will be open on April 26 for a special election to fill the vacant at-large D.C. Council seat, opened by Kwame Brown’s election to chair of the council. The election will also fill two vacant ward seats on the D.C. Board of Education. Polls are scheduled to close at 8 p.m., but those who observe Passover will not be able to get out to vote until sundown.
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, leader of Oho Sohlom—The National Synagogue, sued the D.C. Board of Elections in federal court, calling the election date a “real disadvantage,” according to The Washington Post. His suit sought to move the election date and change polling hours, according to D.C. news radio station WTOP.
But U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in a bench ruling said the election day conflict with Passover is a “limited burden,” as absentee and early voting options are available. The city’s early voting center will be open Easter Sunday.
Alysoun McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the D.C. election board, told the Post that absentee ballots have been sent to several synagogues and Jewish organizations in advance. She said that keeping 142 polling places open beyond the scheduled closing time would be disruptive to the election process.
According to the North American Jewish Data Bank of 2010, the U.S. Jewish population totals 6,543,820.