Agudath Israel of America urges a “no” vote in the upcoming referendum in Ramapo, New York which would change the method of electing town officials. The unstated goal of the referendum is to weaken the political influence of Orthodox Jews in the town by permitting them to vote only for candidates from their immediate neighborhood rather than the town as a whole, which is the current system. The bulk of the Orthodox Jewish community would be concentrated in only two of six districts under the ward system.
This is classic minority vote dilution, only this time the victims are Orthodox Jews. A minority is being intentionally shoved into a small district to limit its ability to affect the outcome of elections in the community at large.
A ward system is generally proposed to help minorities who can’t win townwide or citywide elections. Here, the opposite is true. Both Orthodox Jews and African Americans have been elected town wide multiple times. In the ward system, all of the African American and Orthodox communities are forced into their own districts, making it unlikely for either group to ever have the same level of representation they enjoy under the current system. Under a ward plan, African American voters could not constitute a majority of a single council district, risking the council seat that has been held by an African-American since 1987.
Efforts to inhibit the voting power of any minority group, including Orthodox Jews, are simply intolerable. They must be firmly denounced and resoundingly defeated.
We urge voters to reject this referendum and leave the current system in place.