Voting Rights in the United States

(2014)

This resolution was prepared in consultation with the Rabbinical Assembly.

BACKGROUND

The Talmud acknowledges that people must play a role in choosing their leaders: “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Berachot 55a).

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), an act of Congress that addresses discrimination against minorities in voting. The VRA has been amended five times to protect the voting rights of all Americans. However, on June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelvy v. Holder invalidated key parts of the VRA, striking down section 4(b) which required areas with a history of discriminatory voting practices to seek pre-approval from the Department of Justice before making changes to election procedures. There have been many attempts in recent years to limit a citizen’s right to vote with voter ID laws, restrictions on third party registration, limits on when and where individuals can register and on early and absentee voting. All of these have an adverse effect on minorities.

Whereas, in January 2014 a bipartisan group in Congress introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 to address discrimination in the voting process which includes a new preclearance formula to replace the one the Court struck down; a public notice requirement in communities changing voting procedures, authority for courts to stop voting changes before an election if they appear discriminatory; provisions for the Department of Justice to put election observers in place if there is concern about discrimination at the polls and

Whereas the Conservative Movement and Women’s League have traditionally worked with other movements and organizations in the Jewish community in a non-partisan manner to promote voter registration and expand efforts to get out the vote.

Now, Therefore, be it resolved that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism calls for swift passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 and

Be it further resolved, that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism calls on its U.S. sisterhoods to educate and work with their members to oppose all efforts to limit access of historically disenfranchised populations to voting on the state and federal level; to endorse and work for electoral reforms that increase access to registration and voting for all members; to speak out against voter suppression efforts and
Be it further resolved that the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism encourages its U.S. sisterhoods to play an active role in non-partisan campaigns that seek to increase voter turnout in the lead up to the 2014 and 2016 elections.