Missouri’s Jewish Leaders to GOP: Our Faith Requires Absentee Voting in Pandemic May 5, 2020

Missouri’s Jewish Leaders to GOP: Our Faith Requires Absentee Voting in Pandemic

In Missouri, voting-by-mail is only permitted for those who offer a valid reason for it. Maybe they’re out of town or sick, but it’s not automatic.

Given the pandemic, you would think there would be a push to mail ballots to everyone for November’s election, but this is a state where Republicans dominate the legislature as well as the governor’s office. They sure as hell don’t want more people voting. When people vote, Republicans lose. They love voter suppression.

But Republicans also claim to love religious freedom…

That’s why many of the state’s Jewish leaders have found a workaround that shouldn’t require a lawsuit.

In an open letter to the Jewish community, a group of about three dozen leaders say that protecting life is central to their faith. If someone’s life is in danger, they say, all other religious laws “become inapplicable.”

Therefore staying home on election day in the midst of a virus scare — i.e. a legitimate reason to request an absentee ballot — is a “deeply held religious belief” that the state must honor.

As the pandemic continues, our Jewish teachings, laws, and traditions require us to stay hoe except in situations where leaving the home is essential to preserving life. Wherever else possible, one must do everything in one’s power to do whatever else is needed from the safety and security of one’s own home.

We, the undersigned Jewish religious leaders of Missouri, believe therefore that it is a deeply-held religious belief to remain home on days in which elections are held and that such a belief qualifies one under the Missouri law to vote in any regional, state, or federal elections via absentee ballot.

It’s a brilliant plan. Every other religious institution should follow suit. There’s no reason Catholics, Satanists, Muslims, progressive Christians, etc. can’t do the same thing and make voting all about practicing their faith. Either force Republicans to pass absentee voting for everyone or make them say they don’t give a damn about anyone else’s religious beliefs.

Republicans don’t want you to vote. All the more reason you should make sure you’re able to cast one this November.

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