COLUMBUS, Ohio — After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe and Ohio enacted abortion access restrictions, tens of thousands of women in the state have registered to vote, making the Buckeye state one of the fastest-growing in the country in terms of new women voters. Ohio Democrats and progressives are hopeful they can use the overturning of Roe v. Wade to mobilize those new voters.
As thousands protested across Ohio, many told News 5 they were going to register to vote. And they did. For women like Laila Shaikh, the newly-implemented abortion restriction in the state is why she is hitting the polls for the first time.
"That's something that's extremely personal, and it definitely did push me to go to the polls as a young woman, because you never know what type of situation you're going to be in," Shaikh said.
She is a Gen-Z voter who is ready to make her voice heard — and she is one of nearly 90,000 people who registered to vote after the decision, according to data from Ohio's Secretary of State. This led her to vote in the August primary.
"Especially pushing me on being like, 'Hey, I should even register for the smaller elections, you know, not just the one that's coming up in November,'" she added.
A study done by the New York Times and verified by News 5 found a 6.4% increase in female voters from before the Dobbs leak to after the decision. This gives Ohio the second highest registration increase by women in the country.
But Lisa Stickan, the chair of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, said she isn’t worried about the potential “blue wave” coming this year.
"The polling on what issues or sort of drivers have consistently reflected pocketbook issues — the economy, inflation, gas prices, and I think women voters aren't single-issue voters," Stickan said.
The state doesn't ask why people are registering, so assuming women are voting Democrat isn't fair, she added.
"In our last May primary in Ohio, it was almost 2 to 1 Republican turnout versus Democrat," she said. "I think that shows there is interest with the Republican Party."
Another point to add is that the data could be somewhat skewed. Ohio doesn’t list gender on voter registration data, so the New York Times calculated based on name, and subsequently, so did News 5.
With accounting for mistakes, News 5 saw a 5-8% increase in voters who were women.
When the Secretary of State's team was asked about the data, the office explained that sometimes the data is funky in regards to the registration date. Sometimes people registered much earlier than the written date, but because some counties are "lower-staffed" it may "take longer to put them into the system," it said.
Other times, people could have just moved and needed to re-register in their new county.
That being said, there is no denying there was an increase in women registering to vote in Ohio.
Kansas, arguably more conservative than Ohio, recently voted overwhelmingly to keep abortion legal. Before that ballot measure was voted on, registration by women increased 15.9%, according to the Times.
"It definitely is an increase, and I think it's just going to go up from here," Shaikh said.
Unlike Kansas, Ohio doesn’t have a specific measure on abortion access. However, the lawmakers who will be elected can shape the state and the country in regard to reproductive healthcare law.
Confused about your ballot or want to learn how to register to vote? News 5 is here to help. We created a 2022 midterm elections guide,which is updated daily based on the changing candidacies.