Why President Joe Biden is a write-in candidate on the 2024 New Hampshire primary ballot

The Democratic National Committee has decided to make South Carolina the first voting state instead of New Hampshire after 100 years.

President Joe Biden speaks on his economic plan for the country at Abbot's Creek Community Center on January 18, 2024 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Francesca ChambersAnthony Robledo

USA TODAY

Democrats who cast ballots for President Joe Biden in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary on his name had to go through the extra step of writing in his name.

While Biden is seeking a second term as president, he is not competing in New Hampshire, which is holding its contest ahead of what this year’s Democratic primary calendar allows. Candidates who appear on the state’s ballot will not be eligible to accrue delegates to the national convention.

Biden’s absence from the ballot in the first-in-the nation primary state stems from an dispute between New Hampshire and national Democrats over which contest will lead the nominating process. Last year, the Democratic National Committee decided South Carolina would be the first to host the primary after New Hampshire served as the first voting state since 1920.

With Biden unable to campaign in the state without coming under penalty from the national party, his administration has sent Cabinet members in recent weeks to attend official administration events alongside the state’s federal delegation.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who came in second in the 2020 New Hampshire Democratic primary, have all held events this month in New Hampshire. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai was there in December.

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Biden supporters urge voters to write his name

A group of volunteers unaffiliated with Biden’s reelection campaign have also launched a grassroots write-in effort to keep the sitting president from losing the New Hampshire primary. However, Democratic voters who favor Biden could fail to proactively write his name down in the primary race.

“Write-in campaigns are very difficult and Joe Biden’s vote total on January 23 will understate his actual support among New Hampshire Democrats and Independents,” the group said in a Jan. 16 memo.

In New Hampshire, Biden tends to draw support from voters over the age of 50, according to an Emerson College poll published on Jan. 11. The poll found that voters under the age of 30 were his weakest age group.

Portsmouth resident Julie Robb said she still supports Biden despite him declining to file.

“We’re exercising our voice. (It’s) just because of political strategies,” Robb told Seacoastonline, part of the USA TODAY network, on Tuesday. “But we still have a voice. We have a vote. We three are being proactive in supporting Biden.”

Democrat challengers take advantage of Biden’s absence

Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips and Self-help author Marianne Williamson are challenging Biden in the primary race. The two have opted to appear on the Democratic ballot in the unsanctioned competition that will not count toward winning the nomination.

A total of 21 candidate names appeared on New Hampshire’s Democratic primary ballot but the Emerson poll shows the president will win about 61% of likely Democratic primary voters while Phillips should receive 16% of the support and Williamson expected to receive about 5%.

Phillips has said he is undeterred by the challenges of trying to unseat an incumbent saying at the statehouse in Concord, N.H. in October that “this is a country of longshots.”

Contributing: Ian Lenahan

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