Dear Mr. Perrault,
Our recommendation is that the fixed election date be moved to the first Monday in November, so that a conflict between Election Day and a Jewish holiday does not recur. It is our understanding that no other faith community will be affected by this change.
It is worth noting that fall is hunting season, which is of importance for many indigenous communities and nations. I trust that Elections Canada will consult with them and take that into consideration moving forward.
There are several holidays on which observant Jews would not vote. As Jewish holidays begin at sundown, an election held on those days would cause important problems for the observant Jewish community. While advance voting options are essential alternatives, as many things happen in the last week of an election, they still put voters availing themselves of advanced voting options at a disadvantage.
Observant candidates and observant campaign volunteers face numerous constraints that would compromise their ability to contest the election on a level playing field. This is a significant problem which underscores the importance of ensuring that Election Day does not fall on a Jewish holiday.
Observant Jews would not vote on a Saturday, as it is the Jewish Sabbath. Voting on a Sunday (or any other day of the week) is not an issue, provided it does not fall on a holiday. It should be noted that Friday, being the Eve of the Sabbath, would trigger the same constraints as the onset of Jewish holidays at sunset.
I hope this assists in the important design and planning tasks before Elections Canada. My team and I remain, of course, available to discuss these and related matters at your convenience.
Shimon Koffler Fogel
President and CEO Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs