A political action committee seeking to mobilize the Amish to vote for Donald Trump is running ads in two newspapers that reach Amish communities.
Amish PAC ads have appeared in The Budget and Holmes County Hub Shopper, both based in Ohio. The ad starts with the basics: “Did you know the 2016 presidential election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016? The Republican nominee for president is businessman Donald Trump.”
The ad features a checklist of “what you need to know about him.” It says Trump has never held public office and owns a family-run business: “He has tasked his adult children with running his business while he runs for president.” It says he abstains from alcohol and will appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices who protect religious liberty.
The Budget has broad distribution among the Amish nationwide. The Trump ad appeared in its July 13 edition alongside the newspaper’s signature content — reports of Amish community happenings by “scribes” from across the U.S. and around the world.
The Amish PAC website says weekly ads are planned as part of its Plain Voters Project. On July 25, Amish PAC said it had placed billboards in two locations in Lancaster County, Pa.
Lancaster Online reported experts on the Amish have said the Amish may admire Trump’s business experience, but his boasting personality and three marriages will work against him.
Amish PAC has raised nearly $25,000, mostly from Pennsylvania. The group expects to raise and spend about $41,000, some of it on billboards in Amish population centers. Amish communities are clustered in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“Our goal is to keep these ads running all the way up to Election Day,” Amish PAC fundraising counsel Ben Walters told CBS Philadelphia. “The Amish vote really could make a difference.”
Most Amish do not vote, according to a “two-kingdom” theology of separation from the world. But voting is not prohibited, and the decision usually is left to the individual.
Ohio Amish resident Joel Salatin told the Washington Post he won’t be voting this year. “Definitely, it bothers me,” Salatin said when asked about Trump’s three marriages.
The Amish PAC website suggests Amish voters could decide the election.
“The 2016 presidential election is likely to hinge on a few thousand votes in swing state battlegrounds like Ohio or Pennsylvania,” the website says. “The Amish vote could very well be the deciding factor.”
It says the Plain Voters Project “is laser targeting high population Amish pockets in Ohio and Pennsylvania with the central purpose of registering new voters and turning them out to vote on Election Day.”
When Amish vote, the website says, “they vote for individual rights, personal responsibility, less government, lower taxes and to protect their right to bear arms.”
The Amish PAC strategy focuses on newspaper ads and billboards “tailored to potential Amish and Mennonite voters.” Increasing Amish turnout by 5 percent “could be the difference between a Republican president and Hillary Clinton.”