Peace activists angered by President Biden’s support for the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, are calling on Mainers to cast protest votes in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary.

The Maine Coalition for Palestine said Friday morning that hundreds of Democrats and unenrolled voters, who will be able to vote for the first time in a primary without enrolling in a party, have pledged to cast write-in votes for “ceasefire” rather than check a box for Biden or another candidate. The group said its petition garnered more than 300 signatures within hours.

“We will not reelect a candidate that has funded and armed the destruction of Gaza’s health care system,” Jessie Matheson, of Maine Healthcare Workers for Palestine, said in a written statement.

The Biden campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the effort.

The initiative in Maine comes days after 100,000 registered Democrats in Michigan voted “uncommitted” to protest Biden’s support for Israel’s Gaza campaign, which was launched in response to Hamas’ attack on Israel that killed some 1,200 people and saw 240 Israelis taken hostage.

Maine doesn’t allow people to vote “uncommitted,” so activists launched the petition and write-in campaign.


A similar campaign in the New Hampshire primary resulted in 1,512 people writing in “ceasefire.” Larger numbers of Democratic primary voters cast write-in votes for Republicans Nikki Haley (4,760 votes) and former President Donald Trump (2,079).

The effectiveness of the campaign will be difficult to discern in Maine, which only tallies votes for declared write-in candidates.

Secretary of State spokesperson Emily Cook said votes for undeclared write-in candidates – or causes – will only be reported as blank, making it impossible to determine the number of “ceasefire” votes cast in Maine.

The Maine Coalition for Palestine said they would judge their success by the number of blank ballots cast, even though there would be no way to know how many were “cease-fire” votes.

The coalition recently held a “die-in” at the State House to protest tax breaks for Bath Iron Works, which builds warships for the military. About two dozen people, dressed in fake bloody bandages and sheets, lay down in the Hall of Flags and between the chambers, calling on lawmakers to end the tax breaks.

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