Primary Obligations

Shushan Purim was the official deadline to register for New York’s upcoming presidential primary, set for April 19; eligible unregistered voters were still able to fill out a special form by midnight March 25. It’s too late now for New Yorkers to register to vote.

But an “unprecedented surge” in voter registration activity in the state was reported, and speculation has it that strong feelings about Republican candidate Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Democratic one Bernie Sanders, fueled the determination of voters. State officials could not give a breakdown on the party affiliations of those who submitted registration applications.

Whatever the reason, though, nearly 41,000 New Yorkers submitted voter applications between March 10 and March 20 through the Department of Motor Vehicles’ online system. And half the applications, say officials, were from first-time voters.

Our own community takes the right to vote seriously, and that fact has been well-recognized for decades by candidates for office. For centuries, Jews had limited ability to influence the governments of the countries in which they lived — if any influence at all. And so we American Jews take the wonderful opportunity to be part of a democratic process as full citizens very seriously.

Voting is not only a privilege of citizenship, though. It is a sign of respect for the wonderful country in which we live, and of our gratitude for that brachah. What is more, as observant Jews, with our own special needs and interests, it is vital that we be perceived by government officials and candidates alike as actual voters, not complacent, unengaged citizens. And in many localities where we live, we make up a sizable portion of the electorate. Note is taken by officials of the turnouts in various districts, and when they see that we are concerted and determined voters, they feel, and rightly, that our voices are worth listening to.

So, if you are a registered voter — wherever you live — and your state has yet to hold its primary, make sure to do your duty as an American, and as a Jew.

Furthermore, though the deadline to register in order to vote in the NY primary has passed, the deadline to vote in the general election hasn’t. For those that haven’t yet done so, now is the time to register and be eligible to cast a ballot in November.