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October 10, 2019

To re-elect Trump, Republicans campaigning for Amish votes in Pennsylvania

Most Amish hold conservative values, but many avoid the polls, Washington Post report says

Republican strategists in Pennsylvania have set their sights on getting the politically inactive Amish to the polls to vote for President Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post.

The highly secluded, conservative and usually apolitical group — totaling more than 75,000 in Pennsylvania — are by-and-large eligible to cast their votes in state and local elections. But they historically have chosen not to exercise that right.

Despite this habitual inactivity in politics, two Republican operatives, who started Amish PAC, are targeting the Amish as a way to secure Trump's 2020 reelection, the Post reported. 

The PAC spent nearly $140,000 in 2016 and has raised $32,000 for 2020, according to the Post. It has funded billboards that say "Hard Working, Pro-Life, Family Dedicated . . . Just Like YOU," and taken out "VOTE TRUMP" newspaper advertisements. The PAC also has supplied transportation to take the Amish, who don't drive motor vehicles, to the polls.

The Amish mostly align with traditionally conservative Republican values — like their shared opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. In Lancaster County, two researchers from Elizabethtown College found that a mere 1,019 Amish voted in 2016, out of 15,055 eligible. And 90% of those registered are Republicans. 

This isn't the first time a Republican presidential candidate or their supporters tried to gain the support of Amish people in Pennsylvania. President George W. Bush and his father both visited Amish communities to talk about their Christian values during his 2004 campaign.

That year, 1,342 Amish people in Lancaster County came out to vote for the younger Bush, according to the Post. That's not much, and only slightly more than Trump received in 2016. But those votes came despite Trump being less popular than Bush was, which signaled to strategists that their PAC is working.

Trump won Pennsylvania by a little more than 44,000 votes in 2016, according to the state's official election results

Pennsylvania again is expected to be a crucial swing state for 2020If it's close, those Amish votes could prove influential.

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