Wisconsin’s ‘uninstructed’ voters send Biden a message to change course on Gaza : NPR


Halah Ahmad of Listen to Wisconsin speaks to supporters of the “uninstructed” movement in Milwaukee on Tuesday evening after polls closed in Wisconsin’s presidential primary.

Chuck Quirmbach/WUWM


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Chuck Quirmbach/WUWM

Halah Ahmad of Listen to Wisconsin speaks to supporters of the “uninstructed” movement in Milwaukee on Tuesday evening after polls closed in Wisconsin’s presidential primary.

Chuck Quirmbach/WUWM

With votes still being counted in Tuesday’s presidential primary in Wisconsin, the movement to protest President Biden at the ballot box in response to his handling of the war in Gaza has exceeded its own expectations.

With more than 90 percent of the votes counted, the “uninstructed” option on Democratic presidential primary ballots has garnered more than 45,000 votes, according to results from The Associated Press. That’s about 9 percent of the Democratic presidential primary vote counted so far.

Those margins may change as more votes are counted.

As expected, Biden won his party’s presidential primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday, according to race call by The Associated Press, and is already considered his party’s presumptive nominee.

But organizers, who said they wanted to send a message to Biden to change course before November, set a goal to get at least 20,000 people in Wisconsin to vote “uninstructed.”

That’s about equal to Biden’s margin of victory over former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin four years ago. Polls indicate another close race between the two men this year.

“We have blown his last margin of victory out of the water,” said Listen to Wisconsin spokesperson Heba Mohammad after watching Tuesday’s results. “He needs to be paying attention and calling for an immediate, permanent cease-fire, as soon as possible.”

The protest vote in Wisconsin is the latest in a string of similar movements in other states where voters have tied their support of Biden on Democratic presidential primary ballots to the war in Gaza.

Voters across the states have a common goal in urging the Biden administration to do more to bring about an immediate, permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war and halting U.S. military aid to Israel.

Following the Hamas-led October 7 attacks on Israel, which Israel says killed around 1,200 people, Israel launched a counter-offensive that has killed more than 32,000 people, according to Gaza health officials.

Supporters of the “Vote Uninstructed” movement join a pro-Palestinian march in Milwaukee last Saturday.

Chuck Quirmbach/WUWM


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Chuck Quirmbach/WUWM

Supporters of the “Vote Uninstructed” movement join a pro-Palestinian march in Milwaukee last Saturday.

Chuck Quirmbach/WUWM

Last month, in Minnesota about 19% of the Democratic presidential primary vote was for the “uncommitted” option on the state’s ballots, according to results from The Associated Press. That followed a tally of 13% of the vote in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, which was held in February. There have also been campaigns that resulted in “uncommitted” votes in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Hawaii, and Washington, along with other states that have similar choices on their ballots.

Not every state has an uncommitted or uninstructed option on their ballot. In states that do, the choice typically receives thousands of votes in presidential primaries.

The organizers behind these movements are counting this year’s results as a win that could have a meaningful impact, especially in what is expected to be a highly competitive race between Biden and former President Donald Trump.

In a statement to NPR ahead of Tuesday’s election, the Biden-Harris campaign said “the President believes that making your voice heard is fundamental to who we are as Americans” and that “Biden shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

NPR Political Reporter Elena Moore contributed to this report

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