Casino czar Sheldon Adelson is the sixteenth wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of $21.5 billion. He also lavishes much of his wealth on far right Republican candidates. In the current election cycle, Adelson and his wife have already spent $10 million to buy the White House for Newt Gingrich.
Adelson, however, is also an orthodox Jew, and this fact inspired his home state to provide a special polling place that will allow voters who observe a Saturday Sabbath to participate in next Saturday’s GOP caucus:
A special non-Sabbath voting session for observant Jews and Seventh Day Adventists in the GOP primaries will be held Saturday evening at an educational center built by Sheldon Adelson, who backs Newt Gingrich, and challengers are upset.
The voting is scheduled for the Sabbath, but Adelson, a casino magnate who made billions in Las Vegas and elsewhere, voiced his concern that Jews observing the Sabbath – and who presumably back Gingrich – would not be able to vote. Seventh Day Adventists also observe the Sabbath on Saturday
The word spread quickly that Adelson was upset, and the state decided to allow a special polling station after the Sabbath ends on Saturday.
Much about this arrangement is shady — including the fact that this special caucus is being held at a center owned by Adelson — but there should be no doubt about one thing: Sheldon Adelson is an American citizen and he has the same right to vote that any other American enjoys. Nevada did exactly the right thing by ensuring that Adelson will not have to choose between exercising his most fundamental right or obeying the tenets of his faith.
The same cannot be said, however, for the hundreds of GOP lawmakers who have spent the last few years devising more and more creative ways to make it harder for people who do not own billions of dollars worth of casino investments to vote. It is wrong to deny reasonable accommodations to religious voters, but it is no less wrong to enact Voter ID laws that target minorities, students and low-income voters for disenfranchisement. Or to prevent voters from registering. Or to enact laws that restrict early voting and thus make it harder for people who cannot get off work on election day to vote.
America cannot have one set of rules for billionaires and another for everyone else. All Americans deserve the same access to the polls that Sheldon Adelson enjoys.