© 2024 WEKU
Lexington's Radio News Leader
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Update: We now have $67,900 to go to meet our annual fundraising goal by June 30. You can help WEKU cross the finish line with your support! Click here to make your donation. Thank you!!

'Uncommitted' movement spreads to Super Tuesday states

Placards adorn a wall at an Uncommitted Minnesota watch party during the presidential primary in Minneapolis on Super Tuesday.
Stephen Maturen
/
AFP via Getty Images
Placards adorn a wall at an Uncommitted Minnesota watch party during the presidential primary in Minneapolis on Super Tuesday.

Hundreds of thousands of voters across the country cast their ballots for no candidate in Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday, instead selecting versions of "uncommitted," as a movement opposing President Biden's handling of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza grows across the country.

The results came just a week after the Michigan presidential primary, where the "uncommitted" choice on the ballot garnered over 100,000 votes. The results followed a three-week campaign run primarily by younger Arab American and Muslim organizers from Southeast Michigan.

Their goal was to urge voters to push Biden to call for an immediate, permanent cease-fire and halt U.S. aid to Israel — and for him to make these changes ahead of the general election or risk losing Democratic voter support.

Loading...

After Michigan, organizers in states including Minnesota, North Carolina, Colorado and Massachusetts launched last-minute efforts to get voters to cast protest votes.

In Minnesota — which started an organized campaign in the days after Michigan's primary — the uncommitted option received nearly 46,000 votes and is expected to receive five delegates at the Democratic National Convention this summer, according to counts from the Associated Press.

It brings the delegate count for "uncommitted" up to seven, following the two delegates awarded in Michigan.

Loading...

Not every state has an uncommitted or no-preference option on their ballot. In states that do, the choice typically receives thousands of votes in presidential primaries. It can be hard to compare apples-to-apples between election cycles in any event.

Despite some totals being small, organizers behind these movements cite their results as a win that could have meaningful impact, especially in what is expected to be a highly competitive race between Biden and former President Donald Trump.

How Biden is responding

Despite the protests, Biden handily won in all the primary states Tuesday that offered an uncommitted option on their ballots. In Minnesota, he received over 171,000 votes and 71% of the vote share, while uncommitted received 19%.

"The President believes making your voice heard and participating in our democracy is fundamental to who we are as Americans," Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in a statement to NPR.

"He shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East. He's working tirelessly to that end," she added.

The Biden administration has been involved in various negotiations around the war, which began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7., killing over 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages, according to the Israeli government.

Since then,more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's war campaign, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Most are women and children, but the ministry does not distinguish between civilians and Hamas combatants.

The White House remains steadfast in its support for what it calls Israel's right to defend itself from Hamas, but has urged caution to minimize the impact on civilians. Israel opposes calls for a permanent cease-fire, arguing that it would allow Hamas to regroup and launch new attacks.

Administration officials say there is progress on plans for a temporary cease-fire — at least for six weeks — but the bombardment continues, and the United Nations says there is widespread hunger and growing malnutrition, especially among children.

Vice President Harris gave one of the most forceful speeches from the administration in favor of a temporary cease-fire on Sunday in Selma, Ala.

Organizers claim a partial victory

While there's no way to directly link the votes in Minnesota to any one political cause, organizers behind the uncommitted push see the results of Tuesday as a win for the cease-fire movement.

"Minnesotans made it clear that Democrats want Joe Biden to change his policies," said Asma Nizami, a leading organizer behind the push in Minnesota, in a statement Tuesday night. "Stop sending weapons to Israel and use all possible leverage to end Israel's war crimes in Gaza," she added.

According to Nizami's statement, the campaign was organized in one week and spent $20,000. Organizers behind the Michigan push had three weeks and spent around $200,000.

A movement energizing young voters and progressives

In states with smaller movements, voters still turned out to cast a protest vote.

North Carolina's "no preference" option received over 88,000 votes on Tuesday, or about 13% of the vote, compared to Biden's 606,000, about 87%. That said, in 2012, the last time a Democratic incumbent was on the ballot — then-President Barack Obama — "no preference" received over 200,000 votes (about 21% of the vote that year).

At North Carolina State University in Raleigh on Monday, students marched throughout campus in support of the Palestinian people.

Jamal Mohamad, a 21-year-old from Raleigh and second-generation Palestinian American, led the march. Speaking to NPR on Monday, he said he planned to vote no-preference.

"I don't know what to do," he said, "Joe [Biden] getting reelected is a slap in the face to every Palestinian in here. And every person that has been standing up for the Palestinian movement."

To 30-year-old Yunus Shabandri, voting no-preference in the primary was the right option.

"We need to do more to stand up for the beliefs that the U.S. says they're for — freedom, equality, human rights," he told NPR outside of his early voting location in Cary, N.C.

"If we say that this is what Americans believe," he added, "we're not demonstrating it on the international stage at all."

New campaigns ahead

Georgia's primary is set for March 12, and cease-fire supporters there have launched "The Listen to Georgia Coalition," a campaign calling for Georgia Democratic primary voters to submit a blank ballot in protest.

In a statementreleased Tuesday night, the group urged Biden to "take concrete action" on advocating for an end to the violence in Gaza or "risk losing the 2024 presidential election."

It's a state that will be key for both Democrats and Republicans this fall; Biden won it in 2020 by just 12,000 votes.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.
WEKU depends on support from those who view and listen to our content. There's no paywall here. Please support WEKU with your donation.
Related Content