Unaligned New Jersey Democrat voices protest President Biden’s Israel policy

Thousands of New Jersey Democrats expressed their frustration with President Joe Biden on Tuesday by voting “uncommitted” in the presidential primaries.

By Wednesday afternoon, after about 90% of the votes had been counted, more than 41,000 voters had registered protest votes against Biden. The group Uncommitted New Jersey, which is organizing a campaign to express frustration over Biden’s support for Israel, has set a goal of 50,000 votes.

In most New Jersey counties, Democratic primary voters had the option of choosing “unaligned” in the presidential race, just above the slogan “Justice for Palestine. A lasting ceasefire now.” Activists used a signature campaign to get the option on the ballot. In parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties where signatures were unsuccessful, organizers asked voters to simply write “uncommitted.”

“What Muslims in America are demanding from Biden is so minimal,” Hassan Abdel Salam, executive director of the National Abandon Biden Campaign, said in a press release. “We are asking for an end to the killing, bombing and hunger. About this extreme politics of death. We are not asking for an extra inch of land; we are simply asking for the killing to stop.”

The appearance of the “disengaged” option on New Jersey’s ballots Tuesday was in contrast to the April primary in Pennsylvania, during which activist groups urged Democrats dissatisfied with Biden to write “disengaged” or “no Joe” in protest. Several other states, including Michigan, Colorado and Minnesota, had “uncommitted” options on the ballot this year.

“I like Biden, but I think we need to send a signal that he needs to do more for a ceasefire in Gaza” – Sophie Mulvihill, 21, – she said on Tuesday outside her polling station at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haddonfield. “Of course I will vote for him in November, I just wanted to convey this message.”

New Jersey is one of the last states to hold presidential primaries. Although Biden was blocked for the Democratic nomination from the beginning of the cycle, he battled with progressive activists who encouraged voters to send a pro-Palestinian message by voting “without commitment.” They urged Biden to stop arms transfers and immediately cease-fire.

After halting some arms transfers last month over concerns about civilian casualties in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, the Biden administration told reporters last week it would not change the policy after Israeli air attack in the city.

According to the Associated Press, an administration official stated that the attack did not appear to be a full-scale ground offensive and therefore did not cross the administration’s threshold for halting future weapons transfers.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, Nearly 35,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched a military operation in response to the October 7 attack, in which Hamas killed about 1,200 people and took about 250 Israeli hostages.

New Jersey is a solidly Democratic state that Biden is counting on to win in November. Although it hasn’t been a swing state for some time, former President Donald Trump campaigned in Wildwood in May, where he announced he would win the state. He would be the first Republican presidential candidate to do so since 1988.

In Tuesday’s polls, Kevin Michael, a 26-year-old who recently moved to Cherry Hill, said the “disengaged” vote made him feel better after reluctantly endorsing Biden in November.

“I mean, there’s hunger in this country, people can’t afford rent, people can’t afford food… people can go into debt because of simple health care issues. “I think that’s what we should focus on, not helping other people brutalize innocent people,” he said, referring to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Mohammad Mian, a 69-year-old Democrat from Cherry Hill, voted for Biden in 2020, but on Tuesday he voted “without commitment” and said he was considering voting for Trump in November.

Mian, who is Muslim and from Pakistan, said he did not like the administration’s support for Israel in its war in Gaza, which he described as “the greatest tragedy we have ever seen unfolding before us.”

Mount Laurel resident Nick Lehmann said he doesn’t know any “disengaged” voters and doesn’t think the general election is the time for protest votes.

“I am one of those people who is not a big fan of Biden,” Lehmann said. “But the worst thing that can happen to this planet is another Donald Trump presidency.”

The “disengagement” campaign has had mixed success across the country.

In nine of the 18 states where a no-commitment ballot option was available, more than 10% of Democratic voters chose that option, according to data. Associated Press data. Often, at least 10% of the vote went to a combination of uncommitted, write-in votes or minor Biden competitors.

In Pennsylvania, voters could exploit the write-in option to vote “uncommitted.”

Because the state election code only requires counties to count the number of votes cast, it’s unclear how many voters entered “uncommitted.”

More than 60,000 voters in the Democratic primary took advantage of the opportunity to sign up. in Philadelphia, 13,277 write-in votes were specifically unaffiliated votes, and 13,600 were protest votes associated with Israel overall.

Authors Jason Nark and Jesse Bunch contributed to this article.

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