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Reform Jewish group kicks off voter mobilization effort

May 19, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this March 10, 2020 file photo, a woman votes in the presidential primary election at the the Summit View Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, Mo. The Washington arm of the Union for Reform Judaism is kicking off a nonpartisan voter mobilization project on Tuesday, May 19, that aims to boost balloting in this year's election among a major branch of U.S. Jewry. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE - In this March 10, 2020 file photo, a woman votes in the presidential primary election at the the Summit View Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, Mo. The Washington arm of the Union for Reform Judaism is kicking off a nonpartisan voter mobilization project on Tuesday, May 19, that aims to boost balloting in this year's election among a major branch of U.S. Jewry. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
FILE - In this March 10, 2020 file photo, a woman votes in the presidential primary election at the the Summit View Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, Mo. The Washington arm of the Union for Reform Judaism is kicking off a nonpartisan voter mobilization project on Tuesday, May 19, that aims to boost balloting in this year's election among a major branch of U.S. Jewry. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The Washington arm of the Union for Reform Judaism is kicking off a nonpartisan voter mobilization project on Tuesday that aims to boost balloting in this year’s election among a major branch of U.S. Jewry.

The civic participation campaign from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, first previewed at its conference in December, includes virtual trainings and issue-focused online conversations. The union, which estimates its reach at more than 850 congregations with 1.5 million members, is aiming to achieve 100% voter participation among Reform Jews in November’s elections.

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“As Reform Jews, we believe democracy is strongest when everyone participates – and it suffers when citizens are shut out from the democratic process or choose not to engage,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center, said in a statement.

Its effort comes as other major faiths step up their efforts to turn out voters in the fall amid concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could disrupt the process. A coalition of Christian leaders last week urged Congress to dedicate at least $4 billion to ensure secure ballot access.

The Reform Jewish union has adopted a resolution on elections to coincide with its voter mobilization project that acknowledges the threat of the virus “has created added challenges to voting.”

“Nonetheless, full and free elections can and must be conducted on schedule to ensure the health and well-being of our democracy,” the resolution states.

Among the goals outlined in the Reform Jewish union’s resolution are across-the-board access to mail-in ballots as well as absentee ballots; easier voter registration; and protective equipment for poll workers and voters.

In Missouri, Jewish leaders have pointed to their faith’s core value of preserving life as they urge Jewish voters to cast ballots on an absentee basis this year. That state’s law provides for “religious belief or practice” as a reason for casting an absentee ballot.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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