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Activists encourage voters to choose 'no preference' in Tuesday's election, in support of Gaza

The polling place at JFK Middle School in Florence, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen
The polling place at JFK Middle School in Florence, Massachusetts.

Activist organization Massachusetts Peace Action is calling on Democrats to choose "no preference" on the ballot in the presidential primary this Tuesday.

By choosing “no preference” rather than President Biden or another Democratic Presidential candidate, activists are hoping to protest Biden’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza. Additionally, they're urging people to use their vote “to pressure President Biden into calling for a permanent ceasefire and ending U.S. complicity in the Palestinian genocide,” according to a prepared statement.

“Our simple message to the president is he’s going to lose a lot of political support if he continues on the path he’s currently walking,” said Brian Garvey, the assistant director of Massachusetts Peace Action.

“Voters across the country do not support Israel's war on Gaza,” he said. “And we ask the President not to support it either, especially with our tax dollars.”

Garvey explained that a “no preference” voting campaign has far more potential success than a write-in ballot campaign, since it’s a predefined option on the Mass. ballot.

“It says ‘I am a voter and I am expressing my view, I’m going out to the polls, I’m making a plan to vote, I’m participating and I’m saying no preference because I want to express my feeling on this issue,’” Garvey said.

Massachusetts Peace Action's efforts are directly inspired by a Michigan campaign that resulted in over 100,000 votes for “uncommitted” on their democratic presidential ballot. President Biden got 80% of the Michigan Democratic primary vote, with “uncommitted” receiving 13%.

Jewish Voice for Peace Action is another organization supporting the “no preference” movement.

“Jewish Voice for Peace supports movement towards a ceasefire and movement towards breaking down the critical support that the U.S. and the Biden Administration has given to Israel to carry out this unfolding genocide,” said Molly Aronson, an organizer with the group. “Marking the ‘uncommitted,’ or the ‘no preference’ box in Massachusetts, is a really powerful way to send that message.”

Aronson said U.S. support has been pivotal for Israel’s military operations, and that it could not operate “without the financial and political backing of the United States, and specifically the Biden administration.”

In an interview with NPR, Mitch Landrieu, the co-chair of Biden's reelection campaign, said the president is communicating with uncommitted voters in Michigan about the complicated issues in Gaza. Landrieu also explained that the president hopes to win over voters on other issues.

“We're going to continue to talk to them and then ask them to think about the choices and what the consequences are about electing somebody who wants to have a Muslim ban, electing somebody who is going to be much, much worse than the difficult circumstances that we have right now,” he said.

Corrected: March 5, 2024 at 5:07 PM EST
This story has been corrected to reflect that Molly Aronson is an organizer for the group Jewish Voice for Peace Action.
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