Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard is facing a backlash from part of the country’s Jewish population of 107,000 following her announcement of election on September 14, which also is Yom Kippur.
Jewish legislator Michael Danby said Labor must allow special voting arrangements for Jews or lose support from voters, the Australian “news.com” website reported.
“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,” Danby said in a statement. “I hope my constituents will respect my consistency in this matter just as I try to be consistent in others.”
He said he is negotiating with a government minister “to ensure arrangements for the fullest participation of the Australian Jewish Community in our Australian democratic process. This will mean extra attention to postal voting and particularly pre-polling” in areas with a heavy Jewish population.
Liberal party Member of Parliament Josh Frydenberg wrote on Twitter that the election timing: “disenfranchises many Jewish Australians and is incredibly sloppy work.”
However, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, director Peter Wertheim told the news website, “To be absolutely truthful it is not a major issue for us, because every election takes place on the Jewish Sabbath.”
Special arrangements allow Orthodox Jewish voters to vote through the mail or at polls before election day.