Gov Races, Abortion in Ohio, Va. Legislative Control on Ballot

Off-year elections held on Tuesday will decide governors in Kentucky and Mississippi, the fate of abortion and marijuana amendments in Ohio, legislative control in Virginia and mayoral races in two of the nation’s biggest cities.

Among the highlights across the country:

  • The Kentucky governor’s race nears the finish line after a hard-fought campaign
  • Mississippi voters weigh whether to replace the GOP governor with Elvis’ cousin
  • Virginia’s governor calls the state’s legislative races the ‘most important elections in America’
  • Ohio voters will decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in their state’s constitution
  • Less than two weeks after 18 people were killed by a gunman in their small New England city, residents headed gingerly cast ballots Tuesday for a slate of municipal races in an election that took on a more subdued and somber tone after the tragedy.  The mood in Lewiston, Maine, was somber. Several shooting survivors remained hospitalized, flags flew at half-staff, and funerals were being held this week for those who died in the attack.

Citing civic duty and a quest to return the community to normal life, Lewiston residents turned out to vote in several high-profile referendums and local races.

“This is a necessity. We have to do this. So we can’t neglect it even though we’ve been through a terrible tragedy,” said James Scribner, 79, a retired teacher and Marine veteran, who was joined by his wife at local school that was transformed into a polling place.

Early glitches

State election websites in Kentucky and Mississippi, two states featuring key governors’ races, experienced some issues early on Election Day.

In Mississippi, voters looking up details about their polling location experienced slow loading times, according to Elizabeth Holbert Jonson, spokesperson for the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office. She said that increased traffic to the website caused the problem and that an additional server was added that “appears to have resolved the issue.”

But the polling place locator was still spotty late Tuesday morning. The Associated Press checked addresses in several cities — including Jackson, Madison, Gulfport, Greenwood and Marks — and it wasn’t working.

“We encourage folks to type slowly in the residential address box,” Holbert Jonson said. “When doing that, the system should auto-populate the addresses.”

In Kentucky, a spike in traffic to the State Board of Election’s website disrupted access for a “short period of time,” according to Michon Lindstrom, spokesperson for the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office. Issues were resolved and officials don’t expect further issues, Lindstrom said.

Kentucky voters had different issues on their minds as they went to vote Tuesday.

Kayla Long was thinking of abortion as she cast her ballot for Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in Shelbyville, between Louisville and Frankfort, on a warm fall morning.

“I think it’s a woman’s right to choose,” she said. “And I don’t think politicians should be involved in that choice at all.”

The state currently has a near-total abortion ban.

Another Shelbyville voter, Kent Herold, said it’s time for a change at the top of state government. Herold voted for Republican nominee Daniel Cameron. Herold, a registered Republican, criticized President Joe Biden, especially for his handling of the economy amid surging inflation during his term.

“Do you go grocery shopping? Do you buy gas? Let’s be real. I’m not sure he knows what he’s doing,” Herold said.

Voters in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, are weighing in on whether to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing an individual right to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care.

Mathis Kleckley, a charter bus driver from Reynoldsburg, on Tuesday cast his ballot in favor of Issue 1.

Kleckley said he’s a Christian and that those who share his faith may disagree with him, but he believes that God gives people choices.

“We don’t want the government playing God, either,” he said.

Lester and Sheila Bowling, a married couple from Reynoldsburg, voted no on Issue 1. Sheila Bowling said it’s not a political issue but a moral one.

Lester Bowling, a pastor and veteran, quoted Psalm 139 as saying God formed babies in their mother’s wombs and deserve life at any stage of pregnancy.

Taylor Swift is encouraging her pack of Swifties to head to the polls on Election Day.

“Voters gonna vote!” Swift wrote in a post to her 275 million Instagram followers, riffing off the lyrics to her hit single “Shake It Off.”

In the post, she encouraged those registered to vote in Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia to “use your voice” and directed them to the nonpartisan voter advocacy group for more information. says nearly 40,000 people registered to vote on their website after Swift mentioned the group on National Voter Registration Day in September.

“Taylor Swift is one of the busiest people in the world, but she always has time to stand up for democracy, use her own voice and encourage her fans and followers to use theirs,” CEO Andrea Hailey said in a statement Tuesday.

Polls have begun to open in a few states for off-year elections that could give hints of voter sentiment ahead of next year’s critical presidential contest.

In Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is hoping that his support of abortion rights will persuade voters in his Republican-leaning state to look past their skepticism of the national party and give him another term in office.

Ohio is the only state to consider a statewide abortion rights question this year. Voters there will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing an individual right to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care.

In Virginia, party control of the state legislature is up for grabs in what Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is calling the “most important elections in America.” The results will determine whether Republicans are empowered with full state government control or Democrats can continue serving as a bulwark against Youngkin’s agenda.

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