Listen to Michigan flyer

Listen To Michigan (Public Domain)

Michigan voters push to send ‘ceasefire’ message to Biden during upcoming primary

New Hampshire's recent effort attracted 1% of voters.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Feb 13, 2024   Updated on Feb 13, 2024, 2:28 pm CST

Some Michigan elected officials and voters are pledging to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s upcoming Democratic primary to urge President Joe Biden and his administration to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

After New Hampshire’s Vote Ceasefire primary campaign, Michigan is the second state in which groups are withholding a vote for Biden to send him the same message. Vote Ceasefire, which was a write-in campaign for the Democratic primary, received 1,500 votes (or 1%) last month in New Hampshire’s primary election.

Listen to Michigan, launched by Layla Elabed and a racially and religiously diverse coalition in Michigan, aims to communicate to Biden that they are “uncommitted” to “his administration’s funding of war and genocide in Gaza.” Elabed is Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) sister.

Biden proposed $14 billion should go to Israel to support its military operations in a 2024 government spending bill. Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, almost 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli counter-attacks.

The campaign is possible because Michigan voters are offered the choice to vote “uncommitted” on their primary ballots, similar to Nevada’s “none of these candidates” option.

Many local elected officials have said they’ll be voting uncommitted in Michigan’s primary elections on Feb. 27, including five state representatives, three mayors, and members of multiple city councils and boards of education. Nine of the elected officials hail from Dearborn, Michigan, the U.S.’s first Arab-American majority city.

The campaign’s biggest get thus far is former Rep. Andy Levin, who told the New York Times that Listen to Michigan is “constructive” for Biden, as he needs to be pushed regarding Gaza.

Michiganders who plan on voting uncommitted have posted on Instagram sharing their motivations for joining the campaign, too.

“I’m voting uncommitted in the upcoming Michigan presidential primary,” Tommy Valdez said in a Reel. “Send a message to Joe Biden that his enablement of the genocide in Gaza won’t help him win elections.”

The campaign has supporters out of state, too.

“Michigan organizers have now called on us for our support. We’re always looking for something to do that is productive—well they get something for us,” New York-based activist Linda Sarsour said in a video asking for phone banking volunteers on behalf of Listen to Michigan. “This is just one way to demonstrate our political power through an important swing state.”

Both the campaign and supporters stated former President Barack Obama won the Michigan Democratic primary in 2008 thanks to uncommitted voters, even though he wasn’t on the ballot, and won the state in the 2008 general election.

This is not entirely true. Obama was not on the ballot and former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the primary. Over 40 percent of Michigan voters in the 2008 Democratic primary voted “uncommitted,” meaning the uncommitted vote could technically take some of the state’s delegates.

However, Michigan held its primary elections before the Democratic National Committee allowed that year, so it lost its full voting power at the convention. As a compromise, Obama and Clinton split the state’s delegates: He got 32, she got 36.

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*First Published: Feb 13, 2024, 2:27 pm CST