New PAC aims to harvest Amish votes for Trump

Auctioneer Mark Glick

Auctioneer Mark Glick

A dark money group in Pennsylvania is trying to bring the Amish community to the polls to support Donald Trump in November.

Amish PAC is spending contributions on newspaper ads and billboards to inform Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio about the election. Together, the states have about 60,000 Amish residents.

The group views the Amish as an untapped bloc of conservative voters who might just tip the balance in the two swing states.

“They don’t have internet on their hands, so we’ll be providing them with fliers with specific information and policies that will affect them,” said spokesman Ben King, 28, who lives in Lancaster and is a former member of the Amish community.

benkingamishpacx600Ben King, a former member of the Amish community and spokesman for Amish PAC (Photo courtesy of King)

The Amish PAC, which is also staffed by some political operatives in Washington, calls itself “the first and only political action committee” dedicated to Amish voters.

The group opposes same-sex marriage, wants to protect religious freedom and make sure gun ownership rights are not curtailed, King said.

Amish PAC, which formed in April, has not yet released a campaign contributions list to the Federal Election Commission. But they have so far raised around $18,000, and the first billboard ads will be going up soon, according to Ben Walters, co-founder and fundraising manager for the outfit.

Church elders often discourage the Amish from voting, so trying to mobilize the off-the-grid farmers might be a tall order, but King said if the Amish vote jumps just 5 percent, it could have an impact.

“The Amish are a very conservative community on all the issues of the day,” King said. “It comes down to, who’s going to most allow the country to function like it has functioned. The Amish might not agree with the personality and character of Donald Trump, but the alternative is far worse.”

Making sure the next U.S. Supreme Court appointee is conservative is among the group’s top issues.

King, who left the Amish community a few years ago, now owns a construction business in Lancaster that builds horse barns. He admits that, traditionally, the Amish don’t turn out to vote in large numbers, but said he hopes to at least make it easier for them this election.

It is too soon to say how many Amish will cast ballots in November, but Trump won the primary in Lancaster County overall by clinching 44 percent of the Republican vote.

Part of King’s focus is coordinating logistics around the strict guidelines of the community.

“Getting out polling place information to the community,” he said. “Providing transportation to get to the polling places if it’s pretty inconvenient to get there with a horse and buggy.”

Lancaster County, which has a population of around 519,000, has the largest Amish population in the country, with some 34,000 people, according to the latest estimates.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.