Next stop for Democratic ‘uncommitted’ vote campaign for Gaza: Washington


The movement among Democrats to cast a Gaza protest vote against President Joe Biden in the primary election moves to Washington state on Tuesday.

Organizers with Vote Uncommitted WA have been working for two weeks to ramp up outreach to voters via phone, text, online and in-person connections to explain how they can use their primary ballots to check “uncommitted delegates” to send a message to Biden in support of a permanent ceasefire.

Related: Gaza ceasefire protest vote gains traction in US on Super Tuesday

They were inspired first by the turnout for the uncommitted vote in Michigan, which received more than 100,000 votes, and have learned from organizers there how to get the word out quickly.

A “multiracial, multifaith, anti-war coalition” came together to push uncommitted in Washington, said Rami Al-Kabra, a city council member in Bothell, Washington, who is helping to organize the Washington uncommitted vote. It got a boost from two major unions’ local chapters: the state’s largest, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and the American Federation of Teachers.

The uncommitted push saw big turnout in Minnesota as well, where organizers had one week to convince voters to use their vote to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Nearly 46,000 Minnesota Democrats voted uncommitted, making up 19% of ballots cast and winning 11 delegates to the Democratic convention.

In Minnesota on 6 March, uncommitted snagged 29% of the nearly 1,600 Democratic primary votes cast, the highest percentage so far, getting seven delegates.

Also on Tuesday, a similar effort in Georgia is encouraging voters to leave their ballots blank as a protest over Gaza since the state doesn’t have an uncommitted option. The uncommitted movement is also underway in Wisconsin, another swing state, which votes on 2 April. And Biden announced a plan in his State of the Union speech to build a temporary dock to deliver aid to Gaza.

After the Michigan vote, vice-president Kamala Harris announced support for a temporary, six-week ceasefire, which uncommitted organizers say doesn’t go far enough but is a sign the administration is paying attention to their protest votes.

Washington’s effort doesn’t have a set number of votes it’s hoping to get for uncommitted, but Al-Kabra said the movement has a lot of momentum in the state and hopes to win some delegates. The threshold for delegates is winning 15% in any given congressional district.

Beyond the numbers, though, the hope is to get Biden’s attention at the ballot box to get him to issue a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

“I know personally of people who threw away their ballots as soon as they got them, especially from the Arab community, because we feel completely disenfranchised by the Biden administration,” Al-Kabra said.

The option to vote uncommitted gave a “glimmer of hope”, and Al-Kabra said he also knew of people who re-ordered ballots after tossing them to vote uncommitted.

Most Washington voters cast ballots by mail, after they had been sent out in late February. The first release of results in the state typically skews more conservative than the electorate as a whole, then moves farther to the left over time as more results from later mail returns and same-day voting comes in.



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