Ohio’s Black Voters Credited For Protecting Abortion Access, Legalizing Recreational Marijuana


Source: MEGAN JELINGER / Getty

A grassroots political organization in Ohio has credited Black voters in particular for Tuesday night’s election results that included protecting in-state access to abortions and legalizing recreational marijuana.

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) said the victories demonstrate how such successful mobilization of voters – particularly Black voters – can be used as a model for other states where ballot measures on politically charged issues such as abortion and marijuana legalization could be realized.

MORE: Black Candidates Make History As Democrats Win Big On Election Night

The group spoke out in the hours after Ohio voters made their voices heard at the ballot box in a resounding fashion. Ohio was the only state this year to have a ballot question about abortion along with becoming the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults.

“We are finding the voters that no one else is looking for, including Black people, young people, and returning citizens who have been left out of the process,” Prentiss J. Haney, Co-Executive Director of OOC, said in a statement sent to NewsOne. “If you do the work to understand Black voters and create ways for them to feel and exercise their power together, you can confront rightful cynicism, feelings that nothing will change, and low voter turnout.”

According to exit polling data provided by NBC News, the ballot measure on abortion in Ohio was supported by 83% of Black voters. The ballot measure for legalizing recreational marijuana in Ohio was supported by 72% of Black voters. The two sets of numbers were the highest rates for voters of any background for both ballot measures.

The results of the abortion ballot measure were expected to be critical for Black women, advocates said.

“Unlike any other place we’ve seen so far, anti-abortion groups have invested big in misinforming Black Ohioans, in particular,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, recently told the Grio.

OOC published research that it used for the “pilot program” in Ohio about understanding and engaging voters, including outreach efforts to people like the formerly incarcerated that it said generated tangible results.

“Black voters who OOC engaged turned out at a higher rate than voters the organization did not reach,” OOC said in a press release, noting that “there was a 9% increase of early voters in 2023 compared to 2022.”

Haney said that shows how “[w]hen elections are decided on the margins, it’s people living on the margins who make the difference.”

OOC said it expects to have other “Black-led power building groups in additional states, including Detroit Action in Michigan, POWER Interfaith in Pennsylvania, and New Georgia Project,” apply the model used in Ohio.

The Associated Press reported that the approval of the constitutional amendment for abortion in Ohio may bode well for Democrats in 2024, especially in the presidential election:

The outcome of the intense, off-year election could be a bellwether for 2024, when Democrats hope the issue will energize their voters and help President Joe Biden keep the White House. Voters in Arizona, Missouri and elsewhere are expected to vote on similar protections next year.

The same could be true for future recreational marijuana legalization ballot measures, which next year will include Florida, Nebraska and South Dakota, among other states.


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