We commend the ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court striking down Texas’ voter ID law, which at its core would disproportionately disenfranchise poor and minority voters. No election should be won or lost based on the exclusion of eligible voters. Barriers at the polls are a violation of a basic principle of our democracy; our country relies on the participation of its citizenry in choosing elected officials, without regard to race, gender or geographic location.
Our tradition emphasizes the individual and collective responsibility we have to play an active role in our community and choosing its leaders. Rabbi Yitzhak taught, “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted.” Given the Jewish community’s historical role in the struggle for civil rights, we are particularly sensitive to any instances of voter disenfranchisement. It is our duty, and that of all Americans, to ensure that all citizens are afforded the free and unfettered opportunity to vote and have their votes fairly counted.
Although the court’s ruling applies narrowly to Texas, it also sends a clear message to all states seeking to keep eligible citizens from performing their civic duty at the ballot box: disenfranchisement of voters cannot not be tolerated.
Rabbi David Saperstein
(The author is director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.)