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By Chris McKenna

President Joe Biden's glide to victory in New York's primary next Tuesday could be scuffed by a wave of blank ballots cast by Democrats who want to signal disapproval of Biden's support for Israel during its war against Hamas in Gaza.

A coalition of groups incensed by the toll on Palestinian civilians launched its "Leave it Blank" before early voting began last weekend, enlisting supporters through its website, phone banks, emails and by passing out flyers at events. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,200 people had pledged online to cast blank ballots, approaching the group's goal of 1,600 pledges.

The election itself is little more than a formality: Both Biden and Donald Trump have clinched their party's nominations and shed their last rivals weeks ago, even though several dropout candidates from both parties remain on the ballot for Tuesday's election.

The results on both sides will be notable mostly for signs of opposition that could dampen turnout for the nominee in November.

What's the vision behind 'Leave it Blank' effort?

The "Leave it Blank" organizers hope to show Biden he's ignoring an important part of his base and to spur a "course correction" by the White House in its stance toward Israel on the war, said Alicia Singham Goodwin, political director for New York-based Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, one of at least two dozen groups pushing for blank ballots.

Singham Goodwin said the goal is not to hobble Biden's re-election but to bolster it, by demonstrating a wave of unrest over Israel's military action that could cost Biden votes — and the election — in November.

"For us, a Trump presidency is really scary, and we're taking that seriously," Singham Goodwin said.

As of Tuesday, about a quarter of the blank-ballot pledges had been made through her group's website. Other groups involved in the campaign include the New York Muslim Action Network, various chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America and the New York Progressive Action Network.

There's no comparable Republican effort to snub Trump with blank ballots. But plenty of disaffected GOP voters may cast protest votes for Nikki Haley — or Chris Christie or Vivek Ramaswamy, both also on the ballot — as they have in other states since Haley ended her campaign on March 6. Haley won 155,000 votes — 14% of those cast — in Florida on March 19 in a primary limited to only Republican voters.

Is this happening in other states' primaries?

New York's blank-ballot push mirrors earlier efforts by ceasefire supporters that prompted large "uncommitted" vote tallies in Democratic primaries in Michigan, Washington and Minnesota, all aimed at sending Biden the same message. More than 100,000 Michigan voters cast "uncommitted" votes in the Democratic primary, which was open to Republican voters as well.

The dissent strategy differs in New York because its ballot has no "uncommitted" or write-in lines. The stakes are also different, since closely divided Michigan could tip either way in November while New York is a safe Biden state.

Jeremy V., a Yonkers resident who belongs to the Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America, told the USA Today Network by email that New York, while not an election swing state, is a "stronghold for the pro-Israel lobby" and an important place to signal support for Palestinians' human rights.

"Biden is at risk of losing in the General Election to Trump," he said, declining to give his full last name. "If he refuses to listen to the growing number of everyday working class people who support a permanent ceasefire, he will bear responsibility for another Trump presidency."

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