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Voting While Veiled

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"Voting While Veiled"

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Scott Lemieux writes about Québec regulations against voting with a covered face, and efforts to secure an exemption for observant Muslim women. I agree with this bottom line:

Even if the Quebec government can do it, however, we need to ask whether it should. Absent a showing that facial covered was being used to a significant extent to commit voter fraud, I cannot agree that this regulation is remotely justifiable. The state should accommodate minority religions absent a good reason to do so.

Given the generally fraught subject of the relationship of the major western democracies to the Islamic world and to their internal Muslim minorities, it’s worth pointing out that this is a fairly perverse measure. Nobody who feels a serious religious obligation not to uncover her face is going to be shaken from that conviction by being barred from voting. Instead, a regulation of this sort is just going to be experienced as the disenfranchisement of a group of observant Muslim women. What one wants to do, however, is encourage minority groups to participate in mainstream practices and institutions — voting being high on the list — even if that means the practices may need to be slightly modified in order to accommodate such participation.

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