The Rhode Island Supreme Court has ruled that Newport must hold its municipal election Sept. 13 as prescriped, even though that date is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy, at the request of the Newport City Council, had asked for the court's opinion on the possibility of changing the election date to Sept. 15 so Jews could vote.
Rabbi Theodore Lewis of Newport's Touro Synagogue said more than 300 Jewish families would be disenfranchised if the city held its election Sept. 13.
"I fell disturbed," he said. "Jewish people cannot vote on Rosh Hashanah. We have valued the vote - that is what America is all about If we cannot vote, it makes us less of an American."
Rhode Island law permits postponement of primary elections that fall on religious holidays, but does not specify elections because of conflict with a religious holiday. The date of the municipal election is prescribed by the city charter.
The governor's legal counsel said the court decide that the intent of the law was to include other elections as well as primaries. But the court's opinion said the law allows postponements only for primaries.
House Speaker Edward Manning said that a bill would be introduced at the next regular session in January to amend the election law to remedy the situation.