Is there a surge in women voters in Ohio? Some reports say it’s happening

Credit: Troy Stolt

Credit: Troy Stolt

News outlets across the country, including several in Ohio, have reported a surge in women registering to vote following the June 24 overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Media in Ohio and around the country primarily cite a report from Democratic voter data firm TargetSmart, which ranks Ohio seventh in the country for the share of women among voter registrations since Roe’s overturn.

“It is more pronounced in states where choice is more at risk, or has been eliminated by the decision,” TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier said in an Aug. 17 tweet.

The New York Times did a separate analysis with similar results.

That has given hope to Democrats. Midterm elections are usually bad for the party that holds the presidency, and they anticipated losing control of both the House and Senate. But now Democrats see abortion as a potential turnaround issue, noting Kansas voters’ overwhelming rejection Aug. 2 of a ballot measure that would have allowed abortion restrictions, and the Aug. 31 victory of Democrat Mary Peltola in a special election for Alaska’s one U.S. House seat, which Republicans held for 50 years.

In a campaign news release, Nan Whaley, former mayor of Dayton and now Democratic nominee for governor, also cited TargetSmart and news reports based on it in touting a groundswell of women registering at higher rates than men — and doing so largely as Democrats.

In last few elections Ohioans have voted about 54% Republican and 46% Democrat overall. But parsing new voter registrations is haphazard at best and possibly misleading, according to Rob Nichols, spokesperson for Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office.

“In Ohio you do not list a gender as you register to vote, nor do you declare a party,” Nichols said. “We have absolutely no idea where they came up with their numbers.”

In Ohio, at least, claims of a surge of Democrats or women registering appear to come from analysts cross-referencing locations and ages of new registrants with data that’s only tangentially related, such as an area’s general spending habits, he said.

Brian Sleeth, president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, said he hasn’t heard anything from election officials in counties statewide about a surge in women registering for the Nov. 8 general election.

He’s also Board of Elections director in Warren County, and said he’d have no way to tell among local voters since gender isn’t tracked. The total number of voters there has held steady at about 170,000 for the past two elections, Sleeth said.

“We haven’t seen any uptick in voter registrations,” he said.

Chris Corba, executive director of the Dayton Area League of Women Voters, said she has seen greater interest in issues and voting, but not necessarily more from women. The league set up to register people at a June in Yellow Springs, which usually brings five to 10 sign-ups.

“At that particular event we registered 36 new voters, and of those, I want to say 31 of them were under the age of 30,” she said. “I don’t know that we have noticed necessarily an increase in the number of women registering to vote, but there certainly is greater interest in people voting.”

Individual league members have been registering voters since then, but there have been no large-scale events that might shed light on the gender breakdown, Corba said.

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 11, and the League will be promoting registration heavily in September, she said.

The group will participate in Rock the Vote at the Brightside in Dayton on Sept. 22, will have volunteers at Shiloh Farmers’ Market for rest of month, and will be at the Dayton Metro Library for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 20, Corba said.

The league will also promote registration among students and Sinclair Community College, and is working on a presence at Central State University and other locations, she said.

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