Scottish independence: Saturday referendum may prohibit Jewish vote
THOUSANDS of Jewish voters may be “forbidden” from taking part in the independence referendum if it is held on a Saturday, religious leaders are expected to warn.
The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (Scojec) said “a Saturday ballot would disadvantage Jewish voters, since those who observe Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) would not be able to vote on the day of the referendum”.
The council is still consulting members on its final response to the Scottish Government’s Your Scotland, Your Referendum paper.
The draft also warns that a Saturday referendum could discriminate against Jewish workers, who may face pressure to work or could be excluded from part-time referendum positions.
The draft response continues: “Proxy voting would not be available to Shabbat-observant Jewish people, since Jewish religious law does not permit asking someone else to carry out a forbidden activity on one’s behalf on Shabbat.
“Postal voting, although permissible, is not without drawbacks, since it requires a voter to decide how to cast his or her vote well before the end of the campaign.
“Equality of opportunity requires that no-one should be compelled to vote by post on account of his or her religion, which would be the case if the referendum were to be held on a Saturday.”
The draft concluded: “It is unacceptable to legislate so as to create an occasion for indirect discrimination against any particular group of potential employees.
“We therefore urge that the referendum should not be held on a Saturday, or at least not only on a Saturday, and also not on any religious festival that would similarly prevent full participation by any faith community.”
According to the 2001 census, Jews accounted for 0.13% of the Scottish population amounting to around 6,400 people.
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