Protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war block traffic in Washington on Dec. 14, 2023.
Just under 1,500 New Hampshire voters used Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary to call for a stop to Israel’s invasion of Gaza by writing in the word “ceasefire” as if it were a candidate.
In total, exactly 1,497 New Hampshirites wrote in “ceasefire,” according to the office of New Hampshire’s secretary of state. The figure represents 1.2% of the total votes cast in the Granite State’s Democratic primary, and 1.7% of the total write-in votes.
The organizers of Vote Ceasefire — the name of the grassroots initiative to get Democratic primary voters to write in “ceasefire” — nonetheless declared the outcome “a success,” given the under-resourced and last-minute nature of the campaign.
“Whether it be our marches, calls to elected leaders, or protests, President [Joe] Biden has not paid attention to the voices of tens of thousands of Americans who want a ceasefire,” Bill Maddocks, a Vote Ceasefire organizer and an activist with the group New Hampshire Peace Action, said in a statement Thursday. “So we used something we know he must pay attention to—our votes.”
Vote Ceasefire came together in a few weeks’ time after progressive attorney Andru Volinsky, a former member of the state’s Executive Council, wrote a letter to the Concord Monitor in December announcing his plans to write in “cease fire” as a protest against Biden’s unconditional support for Israel’s war.
Volinsky made clear that although he supports the president’s reelection, he wants Biden to pressure Israel to end its hostilities in Gaza. Like many other critics of the war, Volinsky has said that he was appalled by the Palestinian group Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel, but he sees Israel’s response to that attack as excessive. The Israeli invasion has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom were women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
“My concern is with Israel’s annihilation of Palestinians in Gaza and this administration’s support of that misguided and monstrous effort,” Volinsky wrote in his mid-December letter.
Vote Ceasefire relied on the personal funds of top organizers to pay for yard signs encouraging the write-in vote.
The campaign took place in the context of a highly unusual Democratic primary in New Hampshire. In keeping with the Democratic National Committee’s decision to punish the Granite State for defying a change in the presidential primary schedule that would end New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status, Biden chose not to compete there and was not on the ballot.
Since the contest proceeded in spite of Biden’s boycott, local Democrats — and some high-dollar donors — teamed up to encourage New Hampshire voters to write in his name.
Biden received 64% of the total votes cast on the Democratic side. U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), a primary challenger whose name appeared on the ballot, received 20%, and self-help author Marianne Williamson received 4% of the vote.