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Uncommitted PA aims for 40,000 write-in votes in April 23 primary


Kim Lyons, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
April 3, 2024

A group of two dozen volunteer and grassroots organizations from across Pennsylvania on Wednesday outlined their reasons for supporting the “uncommitted” voting initiative backed by the Democratic Socialists of America, that urges Democrats to cast protest votes against President Joe Biden in the April 23 primary, for his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. 

“We are working together across the state for a singular mission in Biden’s home state of Pennsylvania, which is to get 40,000 write-ins for ‘uncommitted’ in the Democratic presidential primary on April 23, and pressure Joe Biden to end the genocide in Palestine,” Ron Joseph, Uncommitted PA organizer and Philadelphia Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) co-chair said during a virtual briefing with reporters on Wednesday.  

Biden beat former president and presumptive GOP 2024 nominee Donald Trump in Pennsylvania by just over 80,000 votes in 2020. “He will need every vote to win in November,” Joseph added.

The organization takes its inspiration from the “Listen to Michigan”  initiative in Michigan, which encouraged Democrats to vote “uncommitted” on their ballots in the state’s February primary. More than 100,000 Democratic presidential primary voters — about 13% — voted “uncommitted,” but Biden easily won that primary with 81% of the vote. Similar efforts in other states have exceeded organizers’ expectations, but Biden and Trump both easily clinched their parties’ respective nominations with months to go before the primaries end. 

“We know many are calculating the effects of what a campaign like this might do, if another candidate like Trump replaces Biden,” Nada Abuasi, of the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition said during the briefing. “We reject the notion of a lesser than two evils.”

Voting “uncommitted” on a primary ballot in Pennsylvania is not an option as it is in Michigan and other states, but the Uncommitted PA group says it is coordinating with Pennsylvania’s counties to inform them of the campaign and get any “uncommitted” write-in votes counted. 

And, Joseph said Wednesday, Uncommitted PA is analyzing statewide trends for write-in votes from previous election cycles. He said that the group believes it can “reasonably claim all write-ins” in the 2024 primary as “essentially being a win for the Uncommitted campaign. Since there’s no single method for write-in reporting, the write-in votes base has become our method of registering our protest vote over Gaza,” he said. 

The DSA paid for the Uncommitted PA website, Joseph said, but there is no Uncommitted PA political action committee (PAC). As the primary approaches he said the group might “explore other funding sources,” but was currently an all-volunteer initiative. “Insofar as we are getting any funding, it is coming from endorsing organizations who are funding their own campaign initiatives,” he said.

A grassroots effort in Wisconsin set out to garner 20,682 “uninstructed” votes in that state’s Democratic primary on Tuesday. That was the same number of votes that separated Biden from Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

With 88% of ballots counted, the Wisconsin organizers more than doubled their goal, with at least 46,000 “uninstructed” votes — 8.5% of the Democratic primary votes cast. It was unclear whether those voters will abandon Biden in the general election, where swing state Wisconsin, like Pennsylvania, will play a pivotal role in determining the outcome.

Joseph said the Uncommitted PA voting initiative does not extend past the April 23 primary.

The Biden campaign reiterated Wednesday in a statement that the president shares the group’s goal for an “end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East,” adding he was “working tirelessly to that end.”

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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