US ELECTIONS

Will Amish people vote in the 2020 USA Elections?

Traditionally, members of the Amish community have tended to abstain from getting involved in politics. Less than 10% voted in previous presidential elections.

Will Amish people vote in the 2020 USA Elections?
HANNAH MCKAY REUTERS

According to the last census there are around 344,670 Amish people currently living in the United States – a number which has steadily been rising with the population doubling during the past two decades. The Amish community is deeply religious, law-abiding and value simple rural life as opposed to being dependent on modern day technology. While they are not strictly anti-technology, the Amish will not automatically embrace new technology as a matter of course. Their philosophy is that there are two kingdoms – a material and a spiritual kingdom, the latter being the one whose laws they obey. Interaction with the material world is limited and historically, they have abstained from engaging with political issues or casting their vote in presidential elections, although that is slowly changing.

In recent years, elder members of the Amish community may have only taken an occasional interest in politics - usually when local, social issues in which they feel they can make a positive difference, such as urban planning, abortion or tax matters.

Amish children look out of a horse-drawn buggy as they travel through Lancaster, Pennsylvania, October 25, 2020.

The Amish vote in 2020 U.S. elections

Only a minority take part in presidential elections, and while it is impossible to know the exact figure, estimates suggest that less than 10% of the Amish community cast their vote. The turn-out could be greater however for the 3 November elections and the Amish community vote, while relatively small, could be decisive in some swing states. For example, Pennsylvania, which has the largest Amish community in the U.S. at just over 81,000Trump won by a slim 0.7 point margin here in 2016. The same can be said for Ohio, whose Amish population may only make up 0.67% of the state’s total but that is still 78,280. Not all of them will be voting age or registered to vote – according to recent figures, around 2,000 are registered but if just half of that figure do go to the polls then it would count for around 1,000 potential votes.

According to this week’s national polls, Joe Biden holds a nine-point lead over Trump (51.4% - 42.4%). In general, the conservative-minded Amish are viewed as being more sympathetic to the Republican party – amongst other reasons for having a greater emphasis on religion compared to the Democrats who are viewed as being neutral. According to researchers, the Amish community most likely voted for Trump in the 2016 election but the Biden campaign has been placing a heavy focus on his Catholic faith in an attempt to lure the more religious voters. Whether that will have any impact on the results of next month’s elections is anyone’s guess.