Primary Write-in Campaign Launched for ‘Ceasefire,’ Instead of Biden’s Name

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Zoom press conference on "Ceasefire" includes Morgan Brown, upper left; Rachel Rybaczuk, upper right and Andru Volinsky, lower left, and Bill Maddocks, lower right in this screenshot.

Arnie Alpert spent decades as a community organizer/educator in NH movements for social justice and peace.  Officially retired since 2020, he keeps his hands (and feet) in the activist world while writing about past and present social movements.

By ARNIE ALPERT, Active with the Activists

Supporters of Joe Biden aren’t the only ones organizing a write-in campaign for the New Hampshire Primary next Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, a grassroots effort was launched urging critics of the Biden Administration’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza to vote for “Ceasefire.”

Vote Ceasefire, a newly formed grassroots group, is calling on New Hampshire primary voters to vote ‘Ceasefire’ as a write-in candidate “to draw attention to the urgent need to stop the violence in Palestine in the Middle East,” announced Rachel Rybaczuk, who moderated a news conference held over Zoom.

 “We’re encouraging New Hampshire residents to register to vote and use the power of the first-in-the-nation primary to push President Biden to call for an immediate ceasefire.”

“The United States has been funding genocide in Gaza, even though the vast majority of Americans, especially our Democratic voters, do not agree,” said Morgan Brown, who identified herself as a community organizer and health care advocate.  “And although we have tried to make our voices heard in Washington, we have largely been ignored,” she said.

Bill Maddocks of Amherst, co-chair of NH Peace Action, agreed.  “We as peace activists here in the state of New Hampshire have been vigiling. We’ve been calling our members of Congress, have been calling the president. We have tried to call attention to the possibility of peace. And our words, our letters, our texts, our calls are not being heard.”

“We need to get the message through,” said former Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, who published a letter to the editor in the Concord Monitor on December 13 stating that he’d be writing in “Ceasefire” on his NH Primary ballot.  His message to the Biden administration is, “You can veto a UN resolution in favor of a humanitarian ceasefire, but you can’t veto my vote.”

“I think about this in terms of ending the regional conflict, stopping the annihilation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and, returning the US to [being] a leader on the world stage when it comes to foreign policy,” Volinsky said.

Since one thing, perhaps the only thing, the Democratic Party cares about is votes, Brown suggested, the write-in campaign may be the best way to get their attention.  “I want Democratic leaders to see that the American people are taking a stand against the bombing of civilians. These people are infants, they are children, and mothers and fathers and grandparents, aunts, uncles,” she said. “But I think the most important thing to remember here is that these are our fellow humans, and they deserve peace, and safety and comfort, just like we do. As a health care advocate, I cannot stand by and watch as hospitals are forced to treat wounds, like amputations, with no pain management, no sterilization, because the supplies simply aren’t there.”

It’s an uphill effort to be sure, with only a week to go before New Hampshire voters go to the polls and only a few dozen people actively involved so far.  But, as Maddocks said, “If dozens or hundreds or thousands of people were to vote Ceasefire, we’d be able to make a strong statement that the candidates and the general public would be able to see.”

“Writing-in ‘Ceasefire’ in the NH primary does not help Donald Trump,” the group stated in an internal document.  “This is a much better way to cast a protest vote than supporting third party candidates who would be spoilers that are actually helping Trump.”

Vote Ceasefire is hoping to spread the word – rapidly – by social media, posters, chalking, yard signs, and anything else that promotes awareness.   

All votes for “Ceasefire” should get counted, said Anna Sventek, communications director in the Secretary of State’s office.  “When our office tabulates the results, those votes would be categorized under the ‘Scatter’ category,” she wrote in an email message.

Volinsky, who has run for office several times and spent 25 years working as a volunteer voter protection lawyer, suggested that ceasefire supporters “self-report” their write in votes and keep an eye on the official count.  “We’re encouraging everyone who writes in ‘Ceasefire’ to make that fact known,” he said.

Brown said she’s not planning to vote for Ceasefire in November, but wants to get the attention of the president and Democratic Party leaders now.  “I would also really like to urge other young people to get to the polls. This is our future,” she said.  “If you go to college here in New Hampshire, you can vote here, please bring your photo ID to the polls.  Register, and let’s get some ‘Ceasefire’ votes in so that we can send a very clear message to the Biden administration that this massacre of people will never be tolerated.”

“If the Democratic establishment is concerned about my vote, they should be concerned enough to recognize that I care deeply about effecting a humanitarian ceasefire,” Volinsky said.  “And I’m not alone.”

Maddocks said the situation in Gaza is dire, with famine conditions for thousands of people and weapons being made by companies with a significant presence in New Hampshire playing a role in the Israeli attacks.  Yet, he sees hope in the recently announced deal by Qatar and France to provide medical assistance.  A permanent ceasefire, he said, would open the possibility for dialog that could lead to harmonious relations between Israel and Palestine.

“This happened in Northern Ireland. At some point in that conflict that lasted for decades, the weapons flow ended, the negotiations began. And eventually, Ireland and Northern Ireland reached agreement,” he said.

“The Israeli newspaper Haaretz had a headline this morning, which was that the hostage deal is taking a backseat to Netanyahu’s political ambitions,” Volinsky said.  “We want to get the hostages back, if we want to build a sustainable platform for lasting peace in the Middle East, we want to stop the annihilation of civilians, non-combatants, in Gaza. We should act this Tuesday to get our message through and write in ‘Ceasefire’ and sign up at”

“Go vote. Go register. Bring a friend,” Volinsky advised.  And make a poster to display outside the polls which says, “Write in ‘Ceasefire.’”

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