Official results show more than 10% of Democratic voters in Maine left primary ballots blank (Rhode Island Current)

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Official results show more than 10% of Democratic voters in Maine left primary ballots blank

Pro-Palestinian coalition says blank ballots are result of cease-fire write-in campaign protesting U.S. support for assault on Gaza

BY: LAUREN MCCAULEY – APRIL 2, 2024 2:07 PM     

 Maine health care workrers held a vigil in Portland on Feb. 10 to honor the hundreds of medical professionals killed in Gaza. (Courtesy Health Care Workers for Palestine- Maine)

AUGUSTA, Maine — The final tally from the Maine Secretary of State’s Office shows that more than 10% of Democratic ballots were left blank in the March 5 primary, which some are crediting to a write-in campaign to protest the Biden administration’s support for Israel’s ongoing military action against Gaza.

According to the final results, out of 72,480 ballots cast in the Democratic primary, 7,359 were left blank.

Unlike other states, Maine ballots do not provide an “uncommitted” option, so the Maine Coalition for Palestinian Rights encouraged voters to write in “ceasefire” and sign a petition.

Taking credit for the blank ballots, Maine Labor for Palestine wrote on social media, “This was a one-week grassroots campaign with no access to voting rolls. Imagine what we can do with over six months!”

However, as Emily Cook, communications director at the Secretary of State’s Office explained, because Maine law requires that anything other than declared write-ins be recorded as blanks, “it is impossible to tell exactly what had been written (if anything) on those ballots.”

In comparison, 1,022 of 109,898 Republican primary ballots (or less than 1%) were left blank. And in the 2020 presidential primary, 1.7% of the 205,937 Democratic voters left their ballots blank.

Notably, 16.2% of Republican primary voters in 2020, when former President Donald Trump was the only party candidate, left their ballots blank.

According to the official results of this year’s presidential primary, President Joe Biden garnered a total of 60,018 Democratic votes (or 82.8%) while 4,623 went to U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota. On the Republican side, Trump, now the presumptive nominee, won 71.9% of the vote (or 79,034 of 109,898 total votes) while former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the only active candidate at the time, got 25.4% of Republican votes.

“Uncommitted” votes had strong showings in multiple state primaries. More than 100,000 Democratic voters in Michigan, or more than 13%, voted uncommitted while more than 19% of votes cast for Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party were in protest of the Gaza offensive. The “noncommitted delegate” option received 8.1% of the vote in Colorado’s Democratic primary, while a similar option in Massachusetts garnered 9.4%.

In Portland — where more than a quarter (25.7%) of the 5,337 Democratic voters left their ballots blank — as many as 1,000 people turned out for a march and rally on Saturday calling for an end to the assault on Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the death toll is now nearing 33,000 people, with more than 75,000 injured.

“As Mainers, we are saying we cannot and will not support our hard earned tax dollars going towards the continuous murder, starvation, and brutalization of the Palestinian people,” Rosemary Corkins, a member of the organizing committee for Saturday’s march, said in a press statement.

“We are, and will continue, pushing our representatives to accurately represent us in Washington by calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire,” Corkins added.

Maine Morning Star is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Maine Morning Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lauren McCauley for questions: Follow Maine Morning Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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