Amish electoral participation is limited, though some Amish do vote
Only a small number of Amish cast ballots in presidential elections, perhaps 10-15%. Amish may be more likely to get involved when voting involves issues which directly affect them, such as zoning. Amish generally do not vote for a few reasons.
Why don’t most Amish participate in political elections?
For one, Amish follow a “Two Kingdoms” theology, which holds that there exist both a material and a spiritual kingdom. While respecting worldly governments, Amish feel that Christians should adhere to the laws of the spiritual kingdom above all.
Though Amish are highly law-abiding, they view the material kingdom as worldly and traditionally limit interaction within it. Amish believe in non-resistance, and may be hesitant to take part in electing a politician who may use force as an agent of the state. Amish do not hold political office themselves, for similar reasons.
Additionally, voting in national elections for candidates who enact a wide array of laws in distant Washington may be seen as an abstract endeavor. This is one reason that local elections concerning tangible issues may receive a greater response from Amish.
How many Amish cast ballots?
Voting is typically not prohibited outright, and the decision to vote is left to the individual in most congregations. Donald Kraybill notes that in the Lancaster community, “Those who vote tend to be younger businessmen with an interest in community affairs” (The Riddle of Amish Culture, Kraybill p 275). The approach to voting varies between communities.
Participation is more likely when voting concerns local issues. However, Amish do take some interest in national elections. George Bush attempted to tap into Amish interest in 2004, when he visited both Lancaster County and Holmes County, Ohio during his re-election campaign to ask for Amish and Mennonite support.
Hurst and McConnell report that in 2004, 43% of Holmes County Amish were registered to vote, though only 13% did so, with most selecting Bush (An Amish Paradox, Hurst and McConnell, p 267).
Amish have been termed “armchair Republicans”, and are seen to be more sympathetic to the Republican party due to a perception of it as one more concerned with religion and traditional values. Though voting is not common, some Amish follow political news and many have and share opinions on politics and politicians.
For further information, see:
The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill
An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community, Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell
Amish America blog: Do the Amish care about politics?
Looking for more good reading on the Amish? Check out our list of best Amish books.