November 1, 2022 — New York
American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch issued the following statement, one week ahead of Election Day in the United States:
American Jewish Committee (AJC), on the eve of the 2022 midterm elections, applauds the election workers, poll monitors, and voters whose efforts strengthen and affirm American democracy. We stand in solidarity with those who doggedly guard against interference, intimidation, and political violence. Their bravery and determination uphold our elections, and in turn, our democracy.
Earlier this month, both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued warnings as early voting began about threats to election workers and voter intimidation. Violence and threats of violence against public officials and their families have become jarringly commonplace. In states across the country, election officials are increasing security measures and training poll workers in techniques to de-escalate conflict. The fact that such efforts are now necessary reveals the extent to which civil discourse – and respectful disagreement – has been devalued. A New York Times poll published earlier this month reported that 74% of likely voters believe American democracy is under threat.
This is a problem that all Americans must confront. The Jewish community knows all too well, from long experience with antisemitism and its violent manifestations, that if we wait until an attack has occurred, we are too late. The same applies to our democracy. If we wait for another event like January 6th – or worse – to mount defenses for our democracy and our institutions, we will be negligent.
Since its founding in 1906, AJC has been committed to promoting democracy, pluralism, and civil and human rights. Many of these values, including the issue of enfranchisement, are as aspirational as they are foundational. The fundamental guiding principle is that the government needs to make it simple and easy to vote, and only enact restrictions vital to uphold the sanctity and security of our elections. The goal of our elected officials must be to find and enact bipartisan solutions to guard the security of our electoral system while ensuring all eligible citizens have an equal opportunity to cast their ballot.
Trustworthy, safe, and accessible voting is a hallmark of democracy – a first step that must be taken if other benchmarks are to be achieved. Free and fair elections – properly administered, their outcomes uncontested – enable us to have our say in who represents us in the halls of power. Independent judiciaries ensure that our rights are protected. It’s these inclusive and robust institutions that form the foundation of a legitimate and well-functioning democracy, and it’s these institutions that make the Jewish community and other minority communities safer and most able to thrive.
Our democracy here in the United States is not immune to the struggles democracies across the globe have experienced. Democracy does not elect officials, democracy does not make policy decisions; people vote in elections, and elected officials make policy decisions. People deserve free, fair and safe elections to ensure the best outcomes not only for Jews, but for all minorities and for society as a whole.
We, collectively, need to continue to build interfaith and interethnic coalitions and reach across the aisle at every level to reignite Americans’ trust in their institutions and, perhaps more importantly, in their neighbors, communities, and fellow citizens.