How the Gaza protest vote made its way across the nation

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‘Vote Ceasefire’ began as a ballot quirk in New Hampshire—now it could be a nationwide Super Tuesday protest against Biden

Ceasefire protest vote campaigns are underway in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and California.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Mar 5, 2024   Updated on Mar 6, 2024, 11:56 am CST

Six weeks ago, Democrats frustrated with President Joe Biden’s unwavering support for Israel felt voiceless. But a new ballot movement that started in one of the nation’s tiniest states could explode across the country on Super Tuesday.

In January, New Hampshire activists urged the state’s Democratic voters to write in “ceasefire” on their primary ballots. But the last-minute organizing—put together the weekend before—was still enough to garner 1% of the vote.

Given more time, a similar campaign in Michigan reaped benefits ten-fold, with over 100,000 people ticking “uncommitted,” 13% of the vote.

Now, efforts are underway all over the country, including in Super Tuesday states Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and California.

In the absence of a realistic primary opponent and aware they can’t stop Biden, voters have found a unique way to challenge the Democratic party line toward the genocide in Palestine. Since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200, over 30,000 Palestinians have died.

Picking ceasefire and uncommitted has become the way for Democrats who oppose Biden’s unfettered support for Israel to not endorse it with their own votes, refusing to be complicit in the war.

Though the movement has been dismissed by naysayers, the Biden administration reportedly took notice.

Politico reported Biden’s campaign team is “freaking out” about its growing momentum. A campaign official also told the Hill the campaign plans to “work hard to earn every vote and that the president is working tirelessly for peace in Gaza.”

Publicly, Biden hasn’t acknowledged Listen to Michigan or any ceasefire protest votes—but his phrasing after the Michigan vote seemed to include a nod to the campaign.

“I want to thank every Michigander who made their voice heard today,” Biden tweeted on Feb. 27.

Several days later, Vice President Kamala Harris called for a temporary ceasefire in a speech, one of the most vocal stances the administration has publicly taken.

The nationwide Gaza protest vote started as a New Hampshire campaign, Vote Ceasefire, and got its seeds in a post-2020 election quirk. 

New Hampshire Democrats and leftists organized on social media shortly before the state’s January primary, in which Biden ran a write-in campaign after battling with the state over scheduling.

The Democratic National Committee wanted to make South Carolina the nation’s first primary, to reward its vote for Biden four years ago that kickstarted his struggling presidential bid. But New Hampshire, historically the nation’s second primary, ignored their directive and still ran on its scheduled date. In protest, Biden officially stayed off the ballot.

Freed of a top-line candidate, Vote Ceasefire saw an opening, and it amassed over 1,500 votes. Despite its small stature, the campaign threatened pro-Israel Democrats enough to draft a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State prior to the vote asking him not to tally the “ceasefire” writes.

And then it started to steamroll.

Listen to Michigan, a ceasefire protest vote started by Palestinian Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) sister, Layla Elabad, asked the state’s Democratic voters to vote “uncommitted” on their primary ballot to demand Biden “listen to Michigan” voters and call for a ceasefire. Thanks to Michigan’s history with “uncommitted” votes, that campaign’s blew New Hampshire’s out of the gate, getting over 100,000 votes in an influential 2024 swing state that includes the country’s first Arab-American majority city

Now, with Super Tuesday here, and 15 states across the country casting ballots, the possibility of a nationwide protest vote against Biden is a reality.

A campaign similar to Listen to Michigan is currently in motion in Massachusetts. Vote No Preference MA urges Massachusetts Democrats to vote “no preference” on their primary ballots tomorrow. The campaign said it was inspired by Listen to Michigan in its inaugural Instagram post from last week.

Vote No Preference MA/Instagram

“Instead of writing in ‘ceasefire,’ we are asking all voters to choose the ‘No Preference’ option on the ballot to send a unified message,” Vote No Preference MA’s website states. “The Vote Ceasefire MA campaign, in light of the outstanding success in Michigan, has decided to endorse No Preference in Massachusetts, where a No Preference option exists.”

There is also a write-in “ceasefire” campaign in Maine organized by the Maine Coalition for Palestine and endorsed by Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights and Healthcare Workers for Palestine – Maine.

And Maine’s ceasefire vote is poised to beat out New Hampshire’s numbers: As of today, over 1,300 Maine voters have pledged to write in “ceasefire” on their primary ballots tomorrow.

However, the Portland Press Herald reported the state’s Secretary of State office said write-in “ceasefire” votes will be counted as blank, similar to that of “undeclared write-in” candidates. In response, the Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights activist network created a petition to unofficially tally the state’s ceasefire votes.


The official Vote Ceasefire campaign is also underway in Vermont and California

And in a press release, Vote Ceasefire praised Listen to Michigan and all ceasefire primary campaigns, noting the impressive difficulties of speaking with the same voice despite the state-by-state irregularities and quirks.

“Primary ballots differ from state to state, and so do the possible mechanisms for registering support for a ceasefire on them,” Vote Ceasefire said. “In California and Vermont write-ins are the way for voters to demand a ceasefire on their primary ballots in those states because there is no ‘uncommitted’ option.”

After Super Tuesday, Vote Ceasefire has also set its sights on Washington, Illinois, and Oregon.

“We have been trying to reach out to our representatives in the government for the past five months and they’re just not listening,” Vote Ceasefire Washington organizer Barb Stuebling told the Daily Dot last week. “So we’re gonna try and use the ballot and see if they’ll listen to that.”

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*First Published: Mar 5, 2024, 9:15 am CST