Sunday, February 07, 2016

Nevada Democratic Caucuses Pose Problems For Sabbath Observers

After this week's New Hampshire primaries, the presidential candidates move to Nevada and South Carolina.  As reported last week by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Democratic caucuses in Nevada are on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 11:00 a.m.  This means that observant Jews and Seventh Day Adventists may be unable to participate because doing so violates their Sabbath.  The Republican caucuses in Nevada will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, obviating the Sabbath observance problem.  The same concerns arose in 2008 and 2012 when both parties held their Nevada caucuses on Saturday.  In 2012, the Republicans held an additional evening caucus for those unable to participate earlier in the day for religious reasons.  In 2008, Democrats placed caucus sites near religious neighborhoods and synagogues so people could walk, and precinct captains were educated to write down information on behalf of observant Jews instead of asking them to sign-in and write themselves. (See prior posting.) It is unclear whether Democrats will be making similar accommodations this year.

South Carolina's primaries are on Saturdays for bot parties (Feb. 20 and 27).  However, unlike in caucuses, primary voters can cast absentee ballots in advance. [Thanks to Steven H. Sholk for the lead.]