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For Immediate Release
May 11, 2017
Contact: Max Rosenblum 202.387.2800
WASHINGTON – In response to an executive order signed today by President Donald J. Trump creating a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of Reform Rabbis and the wider Reform Movement:
While we couldn't agree more on the importance of electoral integrity, President Trump’s Executive Order creating a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is premised on the false notion of rampant American voter fraud. State elected officials and national experts alike, including the National Association of Secretaries of State, have made clear that there is no evidence to support such a claim. What is clear, however, is that in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby v. Holder, states are systematically restricting access to the polls via onerous voter ID laws and restrictions on early voting, among other measures that fly in the face of the American ideal of expanding voting rights. Rather than unearthing non-existent lawbreaking, the work of this Commission is likely to be used as justification to further limit the right to vote for minorities, low income people, young people and the elderly.
We are taught by Rabbi Hillel: ‘Do not separate yourself from the community’ (Pirkei Avot 2:4). Discriminatory measures that restrict voting rights weaken our democracy and deprive Americans of a fundamental right of citizenship. Election integrity is essential and if President Trump is serious about ensuring it, he can work with Congress to enact legislation that will protect the right to vote for all.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.