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2nd. Update: Seventh-day Adventists Shut Out of NV Primary

January 16 Update:

Good to see Adventism’s religious liberty defenders on the case.

James Stanish, Esq., director of the NAD’s North America Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) responds in an email to the Spectrum Blog: “It is a very real strike at the heart of what Democracy should be all about.”

Michael Peabody, Esq., writes in a press release for The Church State Council [of the Pacific Union] aka NARLA-West that, “although it does not expect the parties to change the January 19 caucus date, NARLA-West urges organizers to be sensitive in scheduling future caucuses to ensure that all have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.”

Alan J. Reinach, Esq., states: “One of the attributes that makes our nation so remarkable is that we treat people of all faiths equally. Excluding entire religious communities from the electoral process runs contrary to our fundamental values. . .”

And Adventist News Network’s Elizabeth Lechleitner writes:

Nevada’s decision to hold caucuses on Saturday morning during traditional worship services marginalizes Seventh-day Adventists and observant Jews, said James Standish, an associate director for the Adventist Church’s department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty.

Presidential candidates may be the only ones vying for party nomination this Saturday in Nevada, but civic duty and religious conviction are on the ballot in many voters’ minds.

Some Seventh-day Adventists and Jews are voicing concern over their state’s failure to make provisions for Sabbath observant voters after party officials scheduled Nevada presidential caucuses for Saturday morning, January 19.

Republican and Democratic caucuses begin at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively, conflicting with traditional church and synagogue services, Adventist and Jewish leaders said.

“Scheduling the caucuses on Sabbath morning marginalizes both the Seventh-day Adventist Christian and the Orthodox Jewish communities,” said James Standish, Esq., an associate director for the Adventist Church’s department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty.

“In an election that is being decided on thin margins, selecting a time that excludes thousands of voters may even change the outcome,” he added.

Because Nevada holds caucuses rather than primaries, voters are required to show up at polling stations to indicate their support and engage in debates, disallowing absentee ballots and leaving some citizens conflicted.

“I’m not ‘Mr. Politics’ or anything, but I do like to stay informed and go out and vote,” said Michael Flannigan, an Adventist from the Las Vegas area. “But this year, what with the caucus being on Sabbath, there’d be no way for me to have a voice. I’ll be in church.”

Flannigan, who said he feels disenfranchised, may not mirror all of Nevada’s estimated 5,000 Adventists and 60,000 Jews, but said he “can’t imagine” he’s the only one who plans to vote for his conscience this Saturday.

January 19 was chosen because it was perceived to inconvenience the fewest number of registered Nevadans, an official at the Nevada Democratic Party told Standish earlier this week. The official said party leaders were aware of the time conflict.

Standish said Adventist and Jewish leaders are working with the state government to make sure Sabbath keepers can fully participate in both worship services and elections next time the state goes to caucus.

Original post, published January 11:

Thanks to the Democratic and Republican party leadership, Nevada Seventh-day Adventists and observant Jews won’t be able to vote in their state presidential primary on January 19.

The caucuses, held on Saturday at 9:00* AM for Republicans and 11:30* AM for Democrats, conflict with Sabbath services.

Since in-person participation is required, absentee ballots are not an option, and thus, in the land of religious freedom, two groups face discrimination over their commitments to conscience.

There are about 5000 Adventists in Nevada.

Read more about this from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Apparently, the good folks at NARLA and NARLA-West don’t seem to be covering this yet. I’m going to send an email over to them.

Anyone here from Nevada?

*This story originally reversed the caucus times.

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