Postal voting ahead
The Australian Federal election date was announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard today. September 14. Yom Kippur.
The one day a year on which most Jews irrespective of their religiosity observe will send members of the Australian Jewish community to their local mailboxes instead of the polling booths.
It is a day in Israel when children take to the motorways on their bikes as there is not a car to be seen other than one on medical duty. It is a day which has seen top sportsmen have to deal with their management in excusing themselves from competing and for entertainers from performing.
And for Australian sitting member of Parliament it will necessitate special planning.
Labor MP Michael Danby told J-Wire: “Today the Prime Minister announced that the election will be held on September 14. This coincides with the Jewish Day of Atonement Yom Kippur. As a matter of personal conscience I will be unable to participate on election day. It is my practice, with my wife Amanda, to observe Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement).
I hope my constituents will respect my consistency in this matter just as I try to be consistent in others.
After hearing from the Prime Minister, following her National Press Club address, I am negotiating with the Special Minister of State Gary Gray to ensure arrangements for the fullest participation of the (120,000) Australian Jewish Community in our Australian democratic process.
This will mean extra attention to postal voting and particularly pre-polling in Melbourne Ports and other Victorian seats like Goldstein, Higgins and Kooyong as well as Wentworth and Kingsford Smith in New South Wales and Perth in Western Australia. Many of these electorates already have high levels of postal voting and pre-polling due to shift and emergency workers, travellers and Orthodox Jews being unable to vote during the day on Saturday.”
President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Dr Danny Lamm said: “I think it’s unfortunate that the election was called on Yom Kippur.
Indeed I’m surprised.
It certainly creates a problem for those Jewish supporters of parties and candidates who would have wished to be active at polling booths on election day and who will feel conflicted and unable to do so because of the solemnity of Yom Kippur.
Further it may affect Jewish candidates who will be unable to campaign on election day as Michael Danby has already advised with regard to himself as he will be like most of Jewry in synagogue . However for voters pre-voting and postal vote alternatives are available ensuring that no one will be denied their vote.”
Watch this space for further community comments.