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Uncommitted voters hold crucial turnout in Georgia primaries

Augusta+State+University+students+spread+the+word+about+the+Listen+to+Georgia+campaign+on+campus
Courtesy of Listen to Georgia
Augusta State University students spread the word about the ‘Listen to Georgia’ campaign on campus

In the rise of primary elections around the country, a notable trend emerged: voters have been leaving their ballots blank, which has left hundreds of thousands of Americans voting for neither candidate. 

Listen to Georgia is an organization founded in 2024 that specifically calls on Georgia voters to submit a blank democratic ballot in the state’s primaries. Over nine days, the Listen to Georgia Coalition welcomed support from over 500 volunteers who distributed flyers to voters in 19 cities across Georgia and posted information on various social media platforms, emailed, texted, and called over 50,000 Georgia voters.

Ghada Elnajjar, a media member for Listen to Georgia, explains its goals and outlines with the Biden campaign. 

“The Listen to Georgia: Leave it Blank campaign was a warning to President Biden, urging him to immediately end his support of the genocide in Gaza or risk electoral consequences,” Elnajjar said. “Inspired by the unprecedented success of the Michigan uncommitted campaign, a group of Georgia organizers made up of a coalition of 16 multi-faith, multiracial, multi-ethnic [and] multi-generational partner organizations came together to start the Leave it Blank campaign.”

Elnajjar said that this type of protest has attracted voters dissatisfied with Biden’s policy.

“The campaign captured the voters who were so disenchanted with President Biden that they were going to abstain from voting,” Elnajjar said. “This campaign gave voters a way to express their displeasure through the ballot by casting a blank vote.”

While primaries are over for Georgia, Elnajjar says that Listen to Georgia will continue to advocate for a range of humanitarian issues.

“[Voters] are now energized and feel empowered to keep organizing and advocating for all the humanitarian issues they are passionate about,” Elnajjar said. “The coalition will continue to mobilize people to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and end unconditional U.S. military aid to the Israeli government. [This will allow] all of the much-needed aid to enter Gaza and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace.”

Elnajjar said she feels enlightened to this cause with the presence of her family in Gaza.

“As a Palestinian-American with family in Gaza, many of whom were killed, lost their homes and are suffering from starvation and total despair, this is painful and personal,” Elnajjar said. “I cannot, in good conscience, support a president who willfully and repeatedly supplies the bombs to Israel that are daily killing my relatives and many innocent others.”

Elnajjar said that for President Biden to regain current uncommitted votes, he must change policies.

“The voters have communicated clearly that they are upset and disappointed with President Biden’s policy on Gaza,” Elnajjar said. “If he wants to earn back these votes, he has to make a drastic policy change. President Biden is responsible for the outcome of [the] November elections, not us as the voters.”

Edan Avissar, a junior and board member of Midtown High Votes, said that people voting uncommitted are often in a place of disapproval with either candidate. 

“The concept of voters choosing the uncommitted option in primaries is often used to serve as dissatisfaction with the candidates,” Avissar said. “Midtown High Votes’ main focus is on getting people to register. Uncommitted voters can lead candidates to address a broader range of issues to gain their support.”

Maya Abboushi, a Midtown parent and voter who left her ballot blank for the primary, said the decision to remain uncommitted was easy.

“I had been following the campaign to cast uncommitted votes in places like Michigan and Minnesota as a form of protest where large percentages of the Democratic electorate were voting uncommitted,” Abboushi said. “Once I realized a local organization was urging folks to ‘leave it blank’ for Gaza, it was a no-brainer for me. ”

Abboushi believes that leaving a ballot blank can send a message quickly, especially through social media.

“Leaving it blank or uncommitted has proven to be an effective method,” Abboushi said. “There are several other ways that are effective like calling and writing your congresspeople or joining pro-Palestinian protests in your area, but I think leaving it blank in the primary gets the message through loud and clear.”

Abboushi said media coverage of this campaign has offered uncommitted voters a voice.

“By leaving it blank, voters are expressing their anger and frustration in an effective way,” Abboushi said. “Social media allows for quick, effective ways to voice your opinion, and news outlets have been reporting the results of these protest campaigns. Citizens are telling Biden they are unhappy with his Gaza policy.”

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About the Contributor
Mariam Darb
Mariam Darb, News Section Editor
Mariam Darb is a sophomore and this is her first year on The Southerner. Outside of school, she is involved in Fashion Club and MSA. She is excited to be on staff and start writing.

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