'Uncommitted' movement plans to keep pressuring Biden over Israel’s war through November

"We'll still be here," one organizer said.

March 19, 2024, 1:16 PM

The anti-Biden "uncommitted" movement plans to continue pressuring the president through the general election this fall after seeing relative success in a few state primaries like in Michigan and Minnesota, organizers said.

"We launched our national movement to let you all know uncommitted voters aren't going anywhere," Listen to Michigan's campaign manager, Layla Elabed, told reporters on Monday.

Listen to Michigan organizer Abbas Alawieh echoed that: "We'll still be here in November. And we're still going to be insisting on the humanity of Palestinians."

The group first launched an uncommitted effort in February in protest of President Joe Biden's support for Israel's military campaign against Hamas fighters in Gaza, where tens of thousands of people have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there.

The war was sparked by Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack is Israel.

Activists said on Monday that beyond targeting Wisconsin's Democratic primary in early April, which has a similar "uninstructed" option, the goal will be to put pressure on Democrats through the official delegates that uncommitted has earned, including by pushing for more aid to people in Gaza and an end to the war.

"We aren't backing down until we achieve a permanent cease-fire. Voting uncommitted in a democratic primary election is voters' way to tell Biden to listen to us," Elabed said.

"We don't have any plans right now after Wisconsin," she said. "But what we are doing is there are a number of states that may not have the vehicle for uncommitted ... [but] it is still part of this movement that wants to send this and that needs to send this message to Joe Biden, his administration and the Democratic Party."

Since the uncommitted campaign started in Michigan, efforts to have Democratic primary voters cast non-Biden ballots have spread to various states and gained some traction -- earning around 101,000 uncommitted ballots in Michigan (about 13% of the total) and about 46,000 uncommitted ballots in Minnesota (19% of the total). Both of those amounts could have decided who won each state in the 2016 presidential race.

The movement also got around 87,000 uncommitted ballots in Washington state's Democratic primary, or 10% of the total. Uncommitted got its highest vote share in a contest with the fewest votes overall: 455 ballots in Hawaii's Democratic caucuses, or 29% of the total.

So far, uncommitted is estimated to have earned 20 delegates, according to ABC News' count, compared with more than 2,100 estimated delegates for Biden.

PHOTO: Abbas Alawieh, spokesperson for Listen to Michigan, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and Layla Elabed, campaign manager for Listen to Michigan, speak to the press, in Dearborn, Mich., on Feb. 28, 2024.
Abbas Alawieh, spokesperson for Listen to Michigan, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and Layla Elabed, campaign manager for Listen to Michigan, speak to the press one day after the Michigan presidential primary, at Haraz Coffee House in Dearborn, Mich., on Feb. 28, 2024.
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The uncommitted delegates will give anti-Biden voters in the Democratic Party a voice -- if a relatively smaller one -- at the national convention in August, which will be dominated by Biden supporters looking to rally the party against Trump.

"They could protest. They could make recommendations to change bylaws," Florida delegate Nadia Ahmed previously told ABC News.

Listen to Michigan organizer Abbas Alawieh said on Monday that they intend to select specific delegates representing uncommitted at August's Democratic National Convention who will be "lifting up" the anti-war voice that "voters registered at the ballot box."

The Biden campaign has responded to the protest efforts by saying that he "shares the goal" of peace in the Middle East.

"The President believes making your voice heard and participating in our democracy is fundamental to who we are as Americans," a campaign spokesperson said in a statement to ahead of the Washington primary. "He shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East. He's working tirelessly to that end."

What's next?

Uncommitted isn't an option in many states -- but it is available in some key swing states beyond Michigan.

The battleground of Wisconsin, where Biden only beat former President Donald Trump in 2020 by some 20,000 votes, is the next target because it allows uninstructed votes The state holds its Democratic primary on April 2.

Led by Heba Mohammad a Palestinian American and the digital organizing director of Biden's 2020 Wisconsin campaign, the Listen to Wisconsin campaign officially launched at a news conference in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

"The truth is Wisconsin is not only important for electoral reasons, our state represents the heartbeat of this country," Mohammad said. "As people of conscience and pro-democracy, pro-peace, pro-justice voters, we are going to use his primary to call for an end to the genocide right now."

The group, who says they have not heard from the White House, said they have no intention of endorsing a candidate yet, but after the convention they plan on supporting down-ballot races in November's general election.