Will Amish Vote For Trump?

That’s the question a pair of articles have addressed, following the launch of a Political Action Committee (PAC) seeking to motivate Amish to vote in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Image via amishpac.com

The Amish PAC’s plans are to reach potential Amish voters via advertisements in three newspapers targeted to the Lancaster County and Holmes County communities, and via billboards in Holmes County. The PAC’s outreach director, Ben King, grew up in an Amish family.

There was a similar concerted effort to get Amish to the polls for George W. Bush in 2004, which succeeded to some degree. That is detailed in the article by Donald Kraybill and Kyle Kopko called “Bush Fever: Amish and Old Order Mennonites in the 2004 Presidential Election.”

As far as a PAC targeting the Amish, Kraybill commented for Lancaster Online that “I have never heard of this kind of thing before…I think it’s unprecedented.”

What’s the thinking behind the get-out-the-Amish-vote effort? From amishpac.com:

When Amish vote, they vote for individual rights, personal responsibility, less government, lower taxes, and to protect their right to bear arms.

The objective of Amish PAC’s Plain Voter Project is to drive up Amish voter registration and turnout.

Increasing Amish turnout by even 5% in 2016 could be the difference between a Republican president and Hillary Clinton.

Would Amish actually vote for Donald Trump?

Since Amish have their largest two population groups in Pennsylvania and Ohio, two key swing states, the  “Will the Amish vote?” question seems to arise every four years.

I spoke with the writer for another article at vice.com, and expressed my skepticism that Amish would vote in any significant numbers for Donald Trump.

The biggest reason is that I don’t think he is perceived as a particularly religious, or family values-oriented candidate, as Bush was in 2004, and which drove a lot of his appeal among the Amish.

But that leaves beside the bigger issue that Amish people traditionally aren’t that politically involved (for more on why, see here).

So does putting resources into an Amish PAC even make sense? Incoming Young Center senior fellow Steve Nolt notes that “This could really turn out to be something, but I’d be surprised if it would just because it would really be going against the grain.”

Kraybill’s comments in the vice.com article are similarly negative:

Kraybill estimates that only about 4,000 to 5,000 Amish votes are in play in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which is probably not enough to tip a swing state in one direction or the other.

Considering the scale of effort required to get the Amish’s attention, Kraybill said, “it’s not worth the effort, frankly.”

The Amish PAC aims to spend about $40,000 on their outreach campaign.

You don’t find that kind of money laying on the street. But when hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the election process, I guess it’s just a drop in the bucket.

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    1. Al in Ky

      Thanks for sharing this information, Erik. I remember the 2004 election and efforts to get Amish people to vote for George Bush, and wondered if any such efforts will be tried this year. Some of my Amish and Mennonite friends have been asking this very question, “Will Amish Vote for Trump?”, so now I have some helpful information to share with them. It will be interesting to watch developments in the coming weeks and months.

      1. charles j. kollman


        I like the people i respect their way of life. I like their food and their cooking. What is the point of them voting when they can not support defend or preserve the law of the land our Constitution. They preserve and answer to God.
        Charles J.Kollman

    2. Skeptical

      I’ve been receiving emails from this Amish PAC, Erik, mainly asking for donations. I just delete them. I’m pretty amazed that anybody would think this effort could succeed. Trump isn’t exactly the kind of person the Amish could rally around considering his character, history, and stated views–and the Amish reluctance to vote in the first place. I can’t conceive what could possibly induce them to support him.

    3. Andrew White

      Never thought I'd live to see this headline

      Regardless of the outcome it’s crazy to see Trump and Amish in the same sentence

    4. Mark -- Holmes Co.

      Well, I can promise you there is at least ONE Amish man who WON’T be voting for Trump!!! No, seriously, based on what I hear from friends, family, neighbors and so on, spending any money trying to get folks in Holmes Co. to vote for Trump is wasting money.

      1. Forest

        Based on what I’ve read, I wouldn’t vote for Trump under any circumstances, even if our church voted. Which we don’t. The folks spending their money on this should email me for my home address, then they can send the money to me. It’ll do just as much good for them and I’ll put it to good use…

    5. Min. Tarrel (Terry) Miller

      Amish Values Clash with Trumpism

      Amish have nothing in common with Donald Trump. Indeed, Amish doctrine teaches that Amish do not vote, although a few renegades have sometimes disobeyed that. A political action committee with an x-Amish as director will surely backfire. The guy is shunned by the Amish community. Having him on board only drives a greater wedge between the Amish and Trump, and could backfire big time. The Amish are total pacifists and will not fight, even in self defense. They are not “individualistic”. The whole community is very communal in every aspect, totally opposed to anything that reeks of “self” or “self interest” or greed. The simple way of the Amish has nothing in common with Trumpists. When they learn about the candidates 3 divorces and morality, only a couple renegade Amish would dare vote for him.

      A few years ago in South Dakota many Hutterites registered to vote in a certain election and their combined vote is believed to have actually “elected” a U.S. Senator (a Democrat) in an extremely close race. Their vote “put him over the top”. This was a rare happening as Hutterite doctrine also discourages voting, like all other conservative Anabaptist groups.

      Several men of ethnic Hutterite heritage, but not members of the colonies, have held high office in South Dakota, including Governor Harvey Wollman (a Democrat), his brother Roger (a Republican) served as Chief Justice of the SD Supreme Court, another served as Secretary of Education, and numerous members of the SD House and Senate. Ethnic Hutterites are known as “Hutters” rather than “Hutterites”, as they are no longer part of the colonies, yet retain many of their values. Most are now Mennonites by membership.

      If I may be permitted to share a few personal experiences: Although of “Pennsylvania Dutch” heritage, as a seeker I “joined” or entered the “novitiate” of an old line Hutterite Colony in North Dakota as a teenager, and a few years later became involved in the more evangelical/anabaptist Hutterite Youth Movement, which eventually spawned an independent “Hutterite” Colony in Manitoba, where I was elected as a “Hutterite” minister, and served as such for many years. (I was ordained as a “Mennonite” minister of a neo-Hutterite colony, since the old order would not recognize our “breakaway” colony.) Commissioned by our colony, my wife and I later spent several years as missionaries overseas under the auspices of Global Missions, where several new congregations were established.

      After returning to the Dakotas, in very non-Hutterite fashion, I was elected for two terms as a member of the House of Representatives (S.Dak.), representing a heavily Mennonite and Hutterite constituency, receiving strong support from both. I retained my pacifist and anabaptist convictions throughout, and was often referred to as “the minister in the House”, or sometimes “the conscience of this legislature”.

      I continue full time in the ministry with shared overseer responsibilities for three congregations here in Manitoba, Canada, made up largely of former old order x-Hutterites, former members of the old Hutterite Youth Movement, and several x-Mennonites. We are non-communal and function as congregations. We have a good relationship with the old order Hutterite Colonies and have made “peace” with their leadership. Our relationship is one of mutual respect, although we function as distinct entities.

      Min. Tarrel (Terry) Miller

      1. Ed from NY

        Interesting comment

        Min. Terry Miller, thank you for sharing a bit of your life and experiences both with the Plain communities and in politics. You have an insightful testimony and I hope we may hear more from you.


      Trump and Amish

      I wonder what they are smoking? Trump and Amish – I hope not! As a Canadian Hilary Clinton is looking pretty good. I understand that the plain people always favour the Republicans but Trump??

    7. Anita Martin

      Amish Vote?

      Not Old Order Amish in WI and MN.

      1. JMS

        Anita, I’m curious, do you live in either of those states? Do you know a lot about the Amish in them? I ask because I have Amish friends in Wisconsin and I’m wondering which affiliation they belong to.

    8. Don Curtis

      Amish and voting

      I read some of these posts to my son, Mark, who is Amish. He said that at the community he is a part of it is forbidden to vote. He said that if it was discovered that a member was voting they would be disciplined by the church. In reply to the comment by Mr. Kolman I would disagree in that the Amish do support the Constitution by obeying the law and praying for the government. They also support the government by paying income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc. They don’t pay Social Security taxes but don’t receive any benefits either.

    9. JMS


      The statement that the Amish are supportive of “the right to bear arms” strikes me as inaccurate. I mean, maybe they’re not against it, per se, but being pacifists and not gun-owners themselves, I have a hard time imagining this being a priority issue for them. I also have a hard time imagining them being supportive of Trump in general. Thankfully.

    10. Harriet

      Amish or English, it doesn’t seem as though we have any good and moral choices to vote for. It seems to be six of one and a half-dozen of another!!

    11. Don Curtis

      Amish and guns

      In response to JMS I have to tell you that the Amish do indeed own guns. That is a sore point with my son, Mark. He doesn’t think as non-resistant folk they should own guns. But most Amish do own guns, including rifles, shotguns, pistols, and muzzle loaders because a lot of Amish men and even some women are avid hunters. In the community that Mark is a part of there are only a small minority who do not own some sort of firearm. Mark doesn’t like it but he’s made clear his position on the issue and there’s not a whole lot more he can do.

      1. JMS


        Really? That’s very surprising to me. Do they own them for hunting or something? I didn’t think they hunted…

    12. Amy


      Unfortunately, I don’t like either candidate. However, Trump seems to be at least making some good choices on the pro-life front if not on the bathroom issue.

      1. OldKat

        Kind of where I am

        Amy wrote:
        “Unfortunately, I don’t like either candidate. However, Trump seems to be at least making some good choices on the pro-life front if not on the bathroom issue.” I understand, I don’t like either myself. Two pretty pathetic choices IMHO.

        I would not have thought that many (any) Amish would have found anything attractive in Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton, either, for that matter. I know I don’t. So the comments to this article are about what I would have expected. Especially from those that are actually Amish or closely affiliated with them.

        Personally, I’ve come to this decision: for the first time (ever) since I was old enough to vote I will sit this one out … UNLESS … polling indicates that Hillary Clinton may carry my state.

        That is VERY unlikely, so I am pretty safe in saying that I will not be voting for Donald Trump. If for some reason the people in this state all overdose on drugs, have a frontal lobotomy or otherwise become mentally incompetent and decide to go with Hillary, THEN yep … I’m voting for that carnival barker Trump.

        I’d hold my nose, stick my finger down my throat afterward and no doubt feel great remorse but I would be obligated as a patriotic American to do what I can to stop that incompetent, criminal, narcissist from ever setting one foot in the White House again. If there was one shred of integrity in the current administration she would already be facing criminal indictment, but that is a whole other round of corruption.

    13. Amy

      reply: jms

      Yes, they use guns for hunting.

    14. Judith

      Wow - disappointed.

      I would think that the Amish would vote for the most Christian of the candidates. You know, the Jewish guy who wants to help the poor and the middle class (not through free stuff, but by jobs created by an investment in the middle class), who believes in world peace and non-violence (unlike Trump who wants to carpet bomb Syria and take out whole families – that’s a direct quote). I would think that if the Amish were truly Christian, they would want society to mirror their society – in that the top on half of 1% who owns more wealth than the bottom 99% – would help the 99% get out of poverty and expand the middle class. The taxes for the middle class would go DOWN – and for that wealthy 1% and huge corporations would pay what the middle class does now. (The wealthy and corporations have so many tax breaks it’s obscene at the moment and the middle class is suffering and moving into poverty at an alarming rate).

      Let’s face the facts and the truth – Bernie Sanders is far more Christian than Trump.

      I am truly heartbroken that this beloved Christian community (which I love and respected enormously) would vote for Trump and not for the most Christian candidate – Bernie Sanders.

      1. OldKat


        Our corporate tax rate is the highest of any nation on earth; that is why they leaving the country in droves. With them go jobs. Fact.

        1. Judith

          27 GIANT Corporations that paid NO TAXES 2015

          Hi – here is an article from USA Today – it shows 27 GIANT Corporations that paid NO TAXES due to loop holes and despite record profits. Note American Airlines, Mallinkrodt Pharma, United Continental, General Motors, Xerox ALL PAID NOT A PENNY in TAXES FOR 2015! And they made BILLIONS in profit.


        2. Eli Byler

          Oldkat... fact?

          No Oldkat, there are no facts in your post. Those are your opinion, and nothing more than that. It’s a rather uninformed opinion at that. Wishing something were true doesn’t make it a fact.

      2. JMS

        Christian voting


        Most Christians in America support political candidates who aren’t what you and I would consider very Christlike. There are a LOT of “one issue” voters who will vote for someone solely because they are anti-choice or anti-gay, even if they’re violent, unforgiving, dishonest, racist, hateful, or any other unChristlike trait when it comes to other policies and their general behavior.

        And lots of Christians want the government to apply their personal religion to everyone because they don’t believe in religious freedom, so to them, laws against reproductive freedom, gender equality, etc are OK because it’s what THEIR particular brand of religion calls for, which they see as more important than what is fair for all citizens. They want everyone to be subject to their religious laws. Essentially, they want a theocracy.

        Since my experience with the Amish, both offline and on this site, has shown me that they tend to think the same way, I for one am VERY glad they don’t vote.

        Knowing how unpopular that opinion will be here, and how much judgmental condemnation I’m about to get for daring to state it, I won’t be reading responses after this. But it’s good to know I’m not the only one who recognizes Bernie is the best “conscience vote.” Thank you for that, Judith!

      3. Karen W

        Self professed Socialist and “Christian behavior” does not go in the same sentence either.

    15. Mark -- Holmes Co.

      Judith, I don’t personally know ANY Amish who vote, let alone vote for Trump.

    16. Mark -- Holmes Co.

      Judith, read Don Curtis’s comment a ways above here. A solid and realistic post.

      1. Judith

        Oh. Hi Mark, I did not know that. So is it frowned upon, or is it a real rule from the Ordnung?

        1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

          Judith, in our church it is in the Ordnung.

    17. Crystal

      Are you kidding me?!

      As an Anabaptist (Church of the Brethren) I did not even BOTHER to read this article. Anabaptists do NOT vote. Amish do NOT vote. Period.

      1. That’s actually not true Crystal, based on past history some Amish do vote. Here’s a general overview: https://amishamerica.com/do-amish-vote/

        For a more scholarly article the one referenced above on the 2004 election is good: https://groups.etown.edu/amishstudies/files/2013/06/Bush_Fever.pdf

        However, most Amish people do not vote. Rebecca’s comment below is also a good addition to this discussion.

    18. Amish Girl - Rebecca

      Judith, I do not think you have to worry that the Amish will be rushing to the polls to vote for Trump, or any of them for that matter, we generally don’t vote. I believe you may have misread something, as nowhere did I get the drift that the Amish are actually going to vote for Trump. Just because some organization is trying to convince us to, does not mean we will. At least this Amish girl won’t, and noone from her family or friends, or anyone else she knows. Vote on your knees! Our bishop often pronounces a fast and prayer day close to election.

    19. Amish voting history

      Here’s another article out today on the Amish voting issue, which references the Kraybill/Kopko 2004 election article.


      From the article:

      In a paper titled, “Bush Fever: Amish and Old Order Mennonites in the 2004 Presidential Election,” Kraybill takes an in-depth look at the Plain community’s history of political engagement.

      He found that while voting was once forbidden by church forefathers, involvement in the political process and tacit support for it has waxed and waned for generations. The Amish have traditionally been discouraged from voting but not forbidden. They were, however, forbidden from directly participating in political campaigns or holding elected office themselves.

      He wrote, “The traditional Amish view of the state reflects a position of subjection rather than citizenship. Unlike citizens in the modern state who display a sense of civic duty and responsibility for the welfare of their country, Amish understandings of the state parallel those of subjects to a king.”

      Kraybill said Old Order Amish attitudes toward voting have “fluctuated by historical period and region of the country as well as by local church sentiment.”

      “Some Amish were energized by the 1896 presidential contest between the Republican candidate, William McKinley, and the Democratic challenger, William Jennings Bryan, and expressed support for Bryan who sympathized with farmers and the working class,” he wrote.

      1. Eli Byler

        Donald Kraybill.

        I’ve seen you fall back on Donald Kraybill as the final word on many matters of fact when it comes to the Amish and Anabaptists in general. I think that’s a mistake, born of the need to be able to point to someone as the ultimate authority. I am quite familiar with Mr. Kraybill, both professionally and personally; as someone raised in the communities he writes about, and as someone who has written and researched on the subject under a pen name. I have seen time and again the mistakes he makes in his work; the generalizations, the misinterpretations, the shortcuts. It’s a difficult thing to research, and he tries, but he’s an outsider in a community many parts of which neither knows its own history or believes it’s important that it be record — and one that mistrusts professionals and outsiders. At times, he merely asserts what he believes to be true, maybe quoting an anonymous or near-anonymous source, and moves on from there. You might do better to find another source to balance him; otherwise, you mislead.

        1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

          Eli, you made a good point here. No matter how educated, experienced, or respected a professional may be, they are not part of the community or culture and they miss things or misunderstand from time to time. I’m a member of the Old Order and I sometimes come across things in respected books that make me want to say, “Yes, BUT…” or “Where did THAT come from?” Part of it is the variation not only from community to community or group to group but WITHIN a group also. The experts sometimes rely on interviews also. How often have I done such an interview and held something back or felt it was not proper to go into detail or felt it was too complicated to get the reality across? I’m more careful about that now, but I know it was easy to do.

          I’m not commenting on the Trump question here, just in general. Don’t take it as a slam against Mr. Kraybill — he knows a LOT, but from the perspective of a researcher, not the viewpoint of “this is my world.”

          Nix fa ungutes…

    20. Roger Sweatt

      Go Trump

      Mr. Trump is closer to what a lot of Amish think than you all realize.
      He is a Christian, he loves the Lord and America. He offered to give America 100 million dollars , no strings attached, and Obama refuses to accept the gift. He has offered to build a ballroom for the White
      House to be the grandest in the World for receiving dignitaries and heads of state. They refused. He wants to bring back America to what it was. What is wrong with that. seems to me that most of you have been brain washed by the media. Washington is corrupt, why not clean it up. This is the last chance for America to redeem itself as far as i am concerned, Go Trump! I suggest that you all read his BOOK, TIME TO GET TOUGH. It will enlighten you.

    21. Roger Sweatt

      The privilege to vote is a very valuable one. Just ask the people who live in communist, middle east, or other closed countries if they would like to vote. They can not. They are slaves.

      To choose not to vote in the USA is dangerous, it could mean that you someday might not be allowed to vote.
      If America loses to Muslims, communists or other regimes, your farmland will be confiscated, your women enslaved, men will be executed, etc.
      This is a real threat as we are being invaded this minute on our southern borders and otherwise. The Koran mandates that all others to be exterminated and allah will rule the world.

    22. Ads emphasize "points that the Amish would appreciate"

      The Amish PAC has ads up now according to this recent article:

      From http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2016/07/12/trump-ads-targeting-amish-voters/ –

      The new advertisements read — “Did You Know” and lists a series of facts about presumptive nominee Donald Trump like– he’s doesn’t drink, has a strong work ethic, has a family run business — and if elected would appoint pro-life justices to the US Supreme Court

      “These things were all picked because they are different points that the Amish would appreciate.”

    23. Amy

      Why I will vote for Trump.

      There is no such thing as “more” Christian. You are saved or you are not. Calling people anti-choice and anti-gay is just plain ignorant, and if a person isn’t willing to be open to responses, they shouldn’t comment. It’s called trolling for a reason. I’m surprised that someone with such views is on a site about people who don’t believe abortion is ok. Bernie Sanders is no more Christian than Hilary. Have you seen what he supports? Besides, it’s not reproductive rights. It’s a baby. A baby with a heartbeat. A baby with a lower pain threshold than an adult who experiences excruciating pain at only 20 weeks. A baby with his or her own body. A baby who should have a right to life. A baby who should be allowed to sue for attempted murder if they miraculously survive. Reproductive rights should only be waiting until you are married and ready for children to have sex. Trump doesn’t support babies being burned alive and ripped limb from limb in the womb. He doesn’t support misinformation given to women about abortion or women not even getting basic and safe healthcare. He doesn’t support religious persecution or the violation of our first and second amendment rights. The Amish came here to flee from religious persecution. It won’t be long before they will have to do it again. That’s why they should vote.