Will 2012 be the year of the disenfranchised Amish voter?
Yesterday, Cleveland station WKYC ran a story about Amish potentially not voting due to a proposed Ohio law requiring photo IDs.
I suspect the (already) growing hype over the upcoming presidential elections has something to do with this. Despite the tone of the accompanying video (see below), I tend to think it more wishful media thinking than an issue keeping Amish up at night.
Amish vote in small numbers. Scholars like Donald Kraybill as well as Charles Hurst and David McConnell have examined Amish voting patterns. I shared a few of their conclusions here: Do Amish vote?
Amish voting tends to happen more often in local elections. Some Amish vote in national elections as well. The last presidential election apparently saw dampened enthusiasm among those Amish that do vote, at least in Lancaster County.
Geauga County Amishman Freeman Miller is interviewed in the clip below. The way that things are portrayed (“the Amish cherish their right to vote”), the Amish sound like a crucial voting bloc chomping at the bit to get to the polls.
I’m not so sure that is the case (although every vote counts as the truism goes, especially in a close election–one reason George W. Bush campaigned in Amish Ohio and PA in 2004; see also Donald Kraybill and Kyle Kopko’s article Bush Fever: Amish and Old Order Mennonites in the 2004 Presidential Election). Amish “two kingdoms” beliefs tend to dampen enthusiasm for participating in worldly institutions like politics.
You might recall the Amish photo ID and guns issue from a few weeks back. I wonder if this story might have also taken some inspiration from that one. Of the two, my feeling is that you’re going to get a much bigger rise out of Amish on the hunting issue than on the voting one.
Still, an interesting interview and another example of the Amish going “on camera”.
As the news anchor notes at the end, Amish who agree to be filmed by their studio “get a lot of flack from their friends and family”. So Freeman must feel pretty strongly about the issue, even if most of his brethren probably do not.