South side rocks the vote - Jewish organization hosts voter registration; more than 4,000 sign up

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On the last day that Brooklyn residents are able to register to cast their ballot in the state’s September primary, Rabbi David Niederman and officials from the United Jewish Organization (UJO) delivered more than 4,000 new voter registration cards to the Board of Elections in downtown Brooklyn.

“This is a wonderful day, of course for the Satmar community, which is a largely represented by these new registrations, but also for the greater Williamsburg Jewish community,” said Rabbi Niederman, president of UJO. “This is a great show of our united strength, and that strength is what brings resources to our communities.”

UJO sent members to conduct voter registration drives in synagogues, yeshivas, and public spaces in Williamsburg’s Hasidic neighborhood to register young members of the communities’ different sects. Abe Deutsch, a UJO representative, organized the drive, targeting the Satmar, Pupa, Klosenborg, Squara, Viznitz, Vein and other Williamsburg Jewish communities for several weeks.

“The majority of the people we registered were young families,” Deutsch said. “We even visited Bungalow colonies in upstate New York to get registrants. People who’ve moved have to update their registrati­on.”

Assemblymember Vito Lopez, who was joined by fellow Democratic legislators Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, State Senator Martin Connor, Councilmember David Yassky, State Senator Eric Adams, Rep. Edolphus Towns and Assemblymember Darryl Towns, praised the work of the UJO drive and welcomed the new voters to the borough’s rolls.

“As the political leader and the head of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn, I am proud to celebrate the massive voter registration drive conducted by UJO and Rabbi Niederman and I commend the additional 4,200 new registrants,” said Lopez.

Towns echoed Lopez’s enthusiasm, proclaiming the registration drive as a “great accomplishment for Rabbi Niederman, UJO and the new voters who have just empowered themselves.

“This is tremendous day for all Brooklyn communities. In these tough economic times, when resources are getting more and more scarce, it is important for Brooklyn to flex its muscles and show, just by its sheer size alone, that is has incredible strength in its communities.”

Lentol, whose district includes much of Williamsburg’s Hasidic community, said that the current presidential election as well as the upcoming city and state elections has been generating tremendous interest from voters across ethnic and age lines.

While several elected officials noted that the Hasidic community typically has a high turnout in voting, no one would speculate how the community would be voting in this year’s presidential election and whether the vote may be split along generational lines.

“No endorsement has been made yet by community leaders. This will be done shortly after the convention, though we were very supportive of the Democratic ticket,” said Rabbi Niederman.

With the Democratic convention one week away, Hasidic voters will have to rely on non-electronic forms of media for coverage of significant speeches in order to make up their minds about the election.

“We have no televisions or radios,” Niederman said. “We’ll have to read about it.”

Updated 3:44 pm, October 19, 2011
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