Jewish voters balance religion and politics before election

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A Jewish apartment’s creative take on voting in this years midterm elections. Lexi Sugar/Mitzpeh.

By Lexi Sugar
For Mitzpeh
@lexisugarmedia

 

Researching candidates ahead of time, locating the nearest polling place, applying for an absentee ballot: these are steps that many voters are taking ahead of midterm elections. On Tuesday, Nov. 6, many will choose their candidates.

These midterm elections will select candidates for the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, ⅓ of all U.S. senators, 36 state governors, three U.S. state territory governors, and many city mayors.

Most voters are concerned about healthcare, education, climate change, gun laws and other pressing issues. Jewish voters are similarly interested in these issues, but are also paying close attention to candidates that will support and rally for Jews.

“I am going to consider Jewish issues when voting. Specifically, due to the tragedy this past week, I will consider candidates’ views about gun laws because I believe that change must happen in order to stop the mass shootings,” said Izzy Wolf, a sophomore criminology and criminal justice and government and politics major.

Despite this, some Jewish voters are only somewhat impacted by their religion when it comes to voting.

“I wouldn’t say being Jewish directly influences the way I vote, but I definitely think that my Jewish upbringing shaped some of my political ideals, which in turn influences the way I vote,” Nicole Zibelman, a sophomore journalism major, said. “While Jewish issues are something to note when deciding who to vote for, they are not necessarily the first thing I look for.”

Other Jewish students do not think of Judaism as a large priority, but do not see tension between being Jewish and American.

“I am reformed, so I haven’t attended synagogue regularly since I was a bat mitzvah. I don’t find much tension between being Jewish and American. In my close circle, I feel that I am respected by my friends for my identity,” said Wolf.

Other students feel more strongly about their Jewish identities. Some feel that candidates with strong views about Jewish issues, either positive or negative, can impact the Jewish community.

“If they have strict opinions on things that affect the Jewish population, then that creates a large influence, but if not then I look more towards the bigger picture,” said Stefani Schaechter, a sophomore international business and marketing major.

New voters are the target audience for this election. As specified by a poll from the Harvard University Institute of Politics, 40 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds said they will “definitely vote” in the 2018 midterm elections.

Many of the young voters are participating in the upcoming election for the first time.

“This is my first time voting and I’m very excited to be able to express my values and opinions,” said Wolf.

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