Political activists are taking aim at getting a very counter-cultural group of people to the polls this November, the Amish community. $41,000 plus dollars is being bet on convincing the Amish, and others in the “plain communities”, to head to the polls to vote for the “conservative” presidential candidate.
A group of three conservative political operatives are driving the campaign, known as The Amish PAC – Plain Voters Project, in hopes of getting the Amish, who traditionally do not vote for political candidates, to do just that. Among the operatives of the PAC, is one former Amish man, Ben King, of Lancaster County, PA, who helped raise funds for Dr. Ben Carson’s campaign.
The campaign will target the key swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Since the Amish are generally averse to technology, the funds will not be used to buy space on digital media, but two more traditional mediums: newspapers and billboards. The campaign will target the two largest Amish settlements in the world, Lancaster County, PA and Holmes County, Ohio, each with populations between 60 to 70,000 Amish.
Just how important is the Amish vote?
According to the group’s website:
- The pivotal swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania will decide who becomes the next President of the United States.
- When Amish vote, they vote for individual rights, personal responsibility, less government, lower taxes, and to protect their right to bear arms.
- The objective of Amish PAC’s Plain Voter Project is to drive up Amish voter registration and turnout.
- Increasing Amish turnout by even 5% in 2016 could be the difference between a Republican president and Hillary Clinton.
Why the Amish don’t vote
The Amish generally don’t vote nor hold political office for a number of reasons. Amish believe in the separation of church and state and are non-resistant. They are hesitant to cast a vote for politicians who, as agents of the state, may use force and violence and go to war. Many affiliations of Amish do not prohibit voting, but also don’t encourage it. It is left up to the individual to decide if and when he or she will vote. Generally speaking, the Amish who do vote, will do so when there are local issues that affect the community.
The Amish Response
When I first saw the Super PACS’s website, it seemed a little odd to me. Voting is not very common among the Amish and I don’t personally think that either Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton would have much appeal to the Amish community. My first inclination was that this campaign is facing a pretty serious challenge in achieving its goals. I had an opportunity today to talk with a couple of Amish men in the Holmes County Ohio Amish settlement, one of whom had already heard about the Amish Super PAC. Both of them, members of the Old Order Amish affiliation, agreed with me. One of them, Ray Miller, a friend of mine from Brinkhaven, Ohio and publisher of The Vendor, a local tabloid format information and advertising publication, said:
I do not plan to vote and would discourage other Amish from doing so.
Regardless of the outcome, hundreds of thousands of residents and travelers to Amish Country Ohio and Pennsylvania are likely to see ads in the “Amish” newspapers and billboards encouraging the Amish to get out the vote.
If you are so inclined you can read about the PAC’s goals and agenda at their website, AMISHPAC.com. There’s even a poll you can take on the website entitled: Can we beat Hillary by turning out the Amish Vote in key swing states? Who would have thought it?