A powerful North New Jersey lawmaker today punched back at Nevada Democrats over rules governing the presidential caucus in that state on Saturday, which he argues disenfranchised sizable numbers of devoutly religious Democratic voters.
Orthodox Jewish and Seventh-day Adventist communities couldn’t participate in weekend Democratic caucuses in Nevada due to the holy day of rest on Saturdays. According to the Nevada secretary of state’s website, absentee voting is also not permitted during a contest, a voter must be physically present at a caucus location.
New Jersey’s first Orthodox Jewish Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) said his party made a mistake.
“The Democratic Party, long considered the party of inclusion, adheres to its ideals best when it takes into account the diversity that is America,” said Schaer, chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. “The right and ability to vote is the fundamental cornerstone of our Democracy. No American should have his or her fundamental rights infringed upon because of their religious affiliation. I look forward to all political parties recognizing these essential rights and their obligation to all religious communities.”
New Jersey State Democratic Chairman John Currie backed up Schaer.
“It is disappointing that people who wanted to participate in Saturday’s Democratic caucus in Nevada were left out because of their religious observance,” Currie said. “As Democrats we should always be sensitive to issues of inclusion and diversity. I will work with party officials so that in the future the electoral system is more flexible in order to accommodate everyone’s beliefs.”
In the statement they released about Nevada, neither Schaer nor Currie expressed dismay over the disenfranchisement of New Jersey in the primary process. The Garden State’s presidential Primary Election contest will be held on Tuesday, June 7, ostensibly open to eligible voters who register for their respective parties within the applicable deadlines, but presumably long after the real food fighting is over.