Religion Magazine

UTJ Opposition to Municipal Election Vacation Day

By Gldmeier @gldmeier

With the law proposal to turn municipal elections day into a national holiday moving forward, there is definitely room for discussion of the relevant issues. There are surely reasons to argue that perhaps it is not a good idea, perhaps the benefits will not justify the costs, perhaps there are details that need to be changed and improved, or other factors to consider. Such as, the main argument of opponents has been the cost to the economy. Fair enough.
One argument I would not have expected is that the law is anti-haredi in nature. But of course to UTJ everything not to their automatic benefit is anti-haredi by default.
MK Uri Maklev (UTJ) argued just that, in his opposition to the proposal. Maklev said the benefits are so minimal that it must be the only reason to propose such a law is to harm the electoral percentage of the haredi voters. Maklev says a vacation day wont bring voters to the polls, but will free them up to take care of errands and other needs and spend the day with the family. Maklev says people don't  vote because they don't care enough, not because they have to go to work. Maklev also pointed to the economics of it, pointing to the economists who say the costs will be too great. Another problem is with municipal electiosn not being on the same day across the country, there will be problems with these vacation days - such as someone who should get the day off because he lives in a city with elections, but he works ina  city that is not holding elections..
Maklev's conclusion is that clearly the entire intent of the law is just to harm the Haredi public. Maklev, to his credit, did suggest turning it into a half-day vacation instead of a full day, but his suggestion was rejected.
source: Ladaat
As I said, surely there is room for discussion and figure out what the main problems will be and come up with solutions in advance. Regarding people not caring, perhaps this is going to be just one factor in what will be a number of changes made in order to encourage the public to go vote.
Regarding it being anti-haredi:
 * encouraging people to vote is only anti-haredi? there is no way to see it as trying to get people to be more involved in the process?
 * it seems disingenuous to say that only haredim have a right to vote, which is basically what he is saying. If Haredim go out to vote, which is great, shouldn't other people be allowed to as well? again, trying to get them to the polls is only to counter the haredim? shouldn't a democracy try to find ways to include the people and try to involve them more?
 * I agree that it is more than just people being stuck at work, though there is some of that. I have never missed an election due to being stuck at the office. Either vote before work, or after work - work is not a great excuse, but it is a problem for some people. Maybe they get home too late to go vote, or maybe they don't have enough flexibility to show up a bit later if necessary, or maybe they get home and are too tired to go stand in line to vote. Work does present a problem for some people in regards to their ability to vote, and this would help them out.


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