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We know the end of federal abortion rights had a big impact on the 2022 midterms, and this year, abortion is again on the ballot both directly and indirectly. Voters’ choices in Ohio and Virginia have major implications for access in those states as well as for elections coming in 2024. In Virginia, polls are set to close at 7 p.m. ET; in Ohio, it’s 7:30 p.m. ET. We’ll start to get results after that.
Here’s what we at The 19th are watching:
Ohio: Voters are deciding whether a guarantee to a right to abortion and other reproductive health care should be added to the state Constitution. A vote in August on a measure to make it harder to pass citizen-led ballot initiatives was pretty clearly linked to this month’s abortion ballot measure; that effort was shot down by voters, in a victory for the abortion rights side.
It’s a sign, but not a prediction. Early voting has been robust, and lots of money has been rolling in — abortion access advocates have outraised the anti-abortion side. And Ohio is a red state whose governor, Republican Mike DeWine, appears in a recent ad saying the measure goes too far.
Virginia: When Glenn Youngkin won the gubernatorial election and fellow Republicans made legislative gains in 2021, it was a shock to many observers who had assumed the state had become pretty solidly blue.
Now, another odd-year election will determine control of both legislative chambers, and neither party has shied away from centering abortion. Republicans have embraced a 15-week ban — the same line anti-abortion advocates are asking GOP presidential candidates to back at the federal level. Democrats have made reproductive rights the center of their bid for control of the legislature, warning of the consequences for abortion access if Republicans have the power to restrict the procedure. Democrats say there’s no reason to believe Republicans would stop at 15 weeks.
Politics reporter Mel Leonor Barclay, who has reported extensively on Virginia politics, is watching the fight for control of the legislature and its implications for both abortion and LGBTQ+ rights.
Kentucky: Andy Beshear is the rare Democratic governor of a red state, and he’s facing a challenge from Attorney General Daniel Cameron in an election that has been shaped by abortion and discussion of trans kids in sports. Polls show a tight race.
Grace wrote recently about how the 2020 police killing of Breonna Taylor still reverberates in the state.
Elsewhere: We have an eye on Mississippi, where Democrat Brandon Presley (a second cousin of Elvis) could force a runoff with incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. Attorney General Lynn Fitch, the first woman to hold that position, who brought to the Supreme Court the case that ended Roe v. Wade and a federal right to abortion is running for reelection.
We’re also watching Pennsylvania, where spending on a state Supreme Court election with abortion playing a major role has been climbing.
We’ll have more tonight and in days to come on the results and what they mean.