CCAR Statement on Voter Fraud and Voter Suppression

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Central Conference of American Rabbis notes with concern that President Trump has ordered an in-depth investigation into unsubstantiated claims of alleged voter fraud, but taken no action to address the very real problem of voter suppression.

While Reform rabbis welcome any inquiry that would restore Americans’ faith in the voting process, we note that numerous studies over the years, including in 2016, have found no evidence of significant fraud. We wonder how such an investigation would be conducted by an Administration that admits to relying on “alternative facts” rather than the truth.

Jewish tradition teaches us: “Truth comes first and last.”

The truth is that, rather than voter fraud, the real scandal in American elections is voter suppression. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, thereby neutering Section 5, one state after the next has enacted laws that make voting more difficult – particularly for poor people and members of minority groups that have historically faced discrimination at the voting booth.

The truth is that voter identification laws discriminate against poor voters who have a harder time obtaining the required identification than do other Americans. And the truth is that, even where those laws have been invalidated by federal courts, voters are intimidated and dissuaded from voting by election officials who request identification that isn’t required.

The truth is that polling places have been closed in countless areas most heavily populated by minority voters, requiring longer journeys to polling places that poor working people can ill afford to make.

The truth is that voting hours and early voting days have been cut, further suppressing the vote, particularly among poor working people who most need flexible voting hours.

The truth is that gerrymandered districts, heavily concentrating minorities, result in underrepresentation of minority voters in state legislatures and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Last year, Reform rabbis and the communities they serve joined in an effort of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to partner with the NAACP in non-partisan voter registration and voter protection effort. We saw attempted and actual voter suppression first hand. We will never stop speaking out against voter suppression and taking action to prevent it.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger                         Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                                          Chief Executive

Central Conference of American Rabbis