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Q&A with Ohio Democratic Chair

Ohio’s Nov. 7 general election will allow voters to decide whether to establish a constitutional right to abortion with Issue 1 and whether to legalize recreational marijuana use and cultivation for people over 21 with Issue 2.  

The Post sat down with Liz Walters, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, to talk about the November election and what issues will be on the ballot.

The Post: Can you briefly explain everything that will be on the November ballot?

Walters: The first, and the one that we are spending a lot of time talking about, is State Issue 1. We are supporting a “yes” vote on state Issue 1; this enshrines women's health care freedom in the Ohio Constitution. 

A “yes” vote ensures that the extreme abortion bans that have already been passed in Ohio don't take effect and that moving forward, Ohio women can make their own health care decisions in consultation with their families and their doctors without the interference of politicians.

Issue 2 is marijuana legalization. It is for recreational legalization. The Ohio Democratic Party has not taken a formal stance on it one way or another, but county parties all over the state are supporting a “yes” vote on Issue 2. 

It's (sponsored by) the (Coalition) to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. So, anybody 21 and over can have a certain amount of cultivation and use it for recreational purposes. 

TP: Could you go through some of the pros and cons concerning these issues and what they mean?

Walters: Issue 1 is a constitutional amendment that will enshrine three things in Ohio's Constitution. One is the right of women to access abortion care. 

Ohio has a six-week ban pending, which makes no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life and health of the mother … You do not have the right to an abortion in Ohio and so abortion care is a really important part of women's reproductive health care.

It also enshrines access to birth control and in vitro fertilization—for those women who may be struggling to grow their families—and (ensures) that they have access to those things. Right now in the Ohio State House, we have Republican politicians who are trying to legislate against all three of those things.

Issue 2, again, legalization of marijuana. It's called the (Coalition) to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. So, 21 and over, you get access to (and) you have the right to, within a certain range of purchase, the cultivation and use of recreational marijuana. 

The “yes” campaign is being supported by a coalition of organizations who mostly come out of the grower community. There's a “no” campaign being run mostly by Ohio children's hospitals, but there's not a lot of campaigning happening on either side there … we have a lot of county parties who support the “yes” vote.

TP: How are Ohio Democrats educating voters and getting their message out on how to vote and what's actually going to be on the ballot?

Walters: We have thousands of volunteers across the state who are working hard to talk to voters in their communities—where they live—knocking doors and making phone calls. 

Also, where (voters) consume information, we have folks doing a lot of social media sharing (and) we have a texting program; some people are writing postcards. There's all kinds of activism happening, particularly around Issue 1.


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