May 31, 2011
Rabbi files lawsuit against D.C. elections board
An Orthodox rabbi in Washington and two of his congregants have filed a class-action suit against the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics.
The complaint, filed May 27, claims that the board placed an unconstitutional burden on observant Jews by scheduling a special election on the last day of Passover this year.
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Shalom-the National Synagogue and the two plaintiffs want the Board of Elections to adopt a procedure that ensures that elections are not scheduled on any religious holidays, according to plaintiff lawyer Steven Lieberman.
“In the next three years, there are 10 Tuesdays” that are Jewish holidays, “so this very well can happen again,” Lieberman said.
A lawyer for the board had no comment.
Herzfeld had first sued prior to the April 26 election, asking that the date be changed or that voting hours be extended about two hours so that observant Jews could vote after Passover, which ended at approximately 8:40 p.m.
Orthodox Jews may not write or use electronic devices on holidays.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had rejected Herzfeld’s motion, but said that had the Board of Elections sought a change of date due to the holiday conflict, he would have granted it.
The board scheduled early voting for the previous Sunday, April 24, which was Easter Sunday.