A US grassroots organisation encouraged Democrat voters in New Hampshire to write “ceasefire” instead of Joe Biden as it looks to put pressure on the government to restrain Israel in its war on Hamas in Gaza.
“Vote Ceasefire”, an offshoot of the campaign group Action Network, posted dozens of pictures of New Hampshire voters holding up their ballots, on which they have written “Ceasefire”.
A statement on Instagram read: “Our volunteers have been out at the polls all morning, and will continue to talk to people about writing in CEASEFIRE until polls close!
“If you’ve seen our stories, you know just how many Granite Staters have already gone out today and cast their ballot for a ceasefire!”
Incumbent US President Joe Biden was not on the ballot after the Democratic National Committee decided last year to make South Carolina the first voting state of the primaries with New Hampshire scheduled for a later date.
But New Hampshire decided to push ahead with its own contest, leading Mr Biden's campaign to swear off the state's primary
His allies subsequently launched a vigorous write-in campaign in support of his re-election, meaning voters could choose to write his name at the bottom of the ballot paper.
The group “Vote Ceasefire” sought to use a similar tactic to highlight a push for an end Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, which started the wake of the Hamas attack inside Israel on 7 October in which killed 1,200 people and saw more than 240 more taken hostage.
In response to the attack by Hamas, Israel has vowed to eradicate the militant group and has launched airstrikes and ground operations inside Hamas-controlled Gaza, backed up by a blockade. Health officials in Gaza say more than 25,000 people have been killed during the three months of conflict so far.
Members of “Vote Ceasefire” held a press conference Monday night where they said there’s been tremendous interest in their campaign as the war in Gaza continues.
A statement on their website, made in the run up to the vote on 23 January, said: “President Biden isn’t listening to the 80 percent of Democratic voters who want a ceasefire.
“To make our voices heard, Vote Ceasefire urges New Hampshire and other voters to write in ‘Ceasefire’ to send a message to Joe Biden.
“We have to get out and show Biden that we’re not just asking for a ceasefire, we’re demanding it. And one of the most impactful ways to do that is through the power of your vote.”
According to organisers, ballots voting for a ceasefire were scheduled to be counted as a separate vote, though it could take several days to tally the total number.
When the Associated Press called the race shortly after the last remaining polling places in New Hampshire closed at 8pm ET, they said that 51.4 percent of the votes had gone to Mr Biden, despite his name not being officially listed.
There are more than 21,000 additional write-ins that, at the time of writing, remain either unprocessed or identified as “Other”.