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Voters decide on abortion rights, marijuana and local races in Oxford

<p>Voters show up to Kramer Elementary School, one of the three polling locations, to vote on items such as Oxford City Council seats and Issues 1 and 2.</p>

Voters show up to Kramer Elementary School, one of the three polling locations, to vote on items such as Oxford City Council seats and Issues 1 and 2.

This is a developing story that will be updated with information throughout the day.

Today is Election Day in Oxford, and voters are turning out across three polling locations: the Marcum Hotel and Conference Center, Talawanda High School and Kramer Elementary School. On the local ballot this year are three seats on Oxford City Council, one Oxford Township Trustee position and three seats on the Talawanda School Board.

Beyond the local positions, voters will weigh in on two ballot issues, one to decide on an amendment to the state constitution protecting abortion rights, and a second aiming to legalize marijuana.

Follow The Miami Student for regular updates on how Oxford residents and Miami University students are voting at the polls throughout the day. To learn more about each local candidate, listen to The Student’s podcast, People and Policies.

6:30 a.m.

Even though it was still dark outside, that didn’t stop Oxford voters from showing up bright and early to the polls to vote in the November general election.

Jeffrey Wanko was one of the first residents to cast his ballot at the Marcum Hotel. He said he feels voting is important because it's his civic duty. He was particularly passionate about voting for Issue 1, which, if passed, would propose an amendment to establish in the state Constitution the individual’s right to reproductive medical treatment.

“I think it’s critical that the voice of the people in the state need to be heard, and it’s clear that a majority of Ohioans are for abortion, and it really concerns me the way that officials in the state were able to change the wording on the ballot,” Wanko said.

Over at Talawanda High School (THS), which is closed to students for the day, voters cast their ballots before starting the day.

Justin Kailer, a 2013 Miami graduate and current Oxford resident, arrived at THS to vote just after 6:30 a.m. while his kids were still asleep. Kailer voted no on Issue 1 and Issue 2.

“I believe life begins at conception and so I don't want to see that amendment passed,” Kailer said. “I want less marijuana in our community for my kids. and I know it's supposed to be regulated and there's restrictions, but I think that less is better.”

Angie Moore has lived in Oxford for just over a year and stopped at THS to vote on her way to work. Moore voted yes on Issue 1.

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“On Issue 1 I think both sides are going too far, but I would rather err on the side of voting for,” Moore said. 

Moore voted no on Issue 2.

“[For Issue 2] there's just too many vape shops,” Moore said, “and I don't really care if people smoke pot, but I don't like all the vape shops popping up.”

According to unofficial numbers from, nearly 20,000 Butler County residents had voted early by the time the polls opened on Election Day, and a further 7,000 voted by absentee ballot.

Reporting by Print Managing Editor Alice Momany and Senior Staff Writer Laura Giaquinto.

Photo by Laura Giaquinto | The Miami Student
Election day at Talawanda High School starts bright and early for voters wanting to submit their ballots.

7 a.m.

Despite a few morning voters, there wasn’t a line at the Marcum Hotel, and people were able to go to and from the polls in a timely manner. Robert Simpson, a poll worker at the hotel, said many of the voters they see are students and anticipates the busiest times will be late morning and early afternoon.

Simpson said he also anticipates students might have more difficulty voting because of the new voter ID laws, which require a photo ID such as a state ID card, driver’s license, passport or military ID. Voters can no longer use a Social Security card or birth certificate as options.

Simpson said despite the morning lull, the poll workers will be volunteering until the end of the night.

“There’s no such thing as a short day for a poll worker,” Simpson said.

Mark Moore was also one of the few morning voters. Moore has lived in Oxford for a year and half, which he said made him have less informed opinions on the local races such as City Council, so he did not vote on those candidates. He did vote for Kathleen Knight-Abowitz, Chris Otto and Rebecca Howard for Talawanda School Board based on information from a friend.

Moore said he wasn’t particularly passionate about either Issue 1 or Issue 2 but voted for Issue 1 and against Issue 2. Despite the lack of interest in either issue, he still showed up to vote.

“That’s the only way to get your voice heard,” Moore said. 

Reporting by Print Managing Editor Alice Momany 

7:30 a.m.

THS had signs lining the grass and not a large turnout early in the morning. Billie Black arrived at the high school around 7:30 to cast his vote. Black has lived in Oxford for almost a year and a half and has been a voter since 1973.

Black voted yes on Issue 1 because he believes women should have the right to make their choice. 

“I found the anti-Issue 1 ads offensive or dishonest,” Black said. “Issue 1 is simply to preserve for women their choice. No one ever forces anybody to get an abortion.”

Black voted yes on Issue 2 because he believes it is the intelligent thing to do.

“[Marijuana is] less damaging to people than alcohol and for people that have anxiety and pain, it's a good treatment now,” Black said. “We’ll spend far less money on law enforcement while making money on taxes.”

Sally Smith has been an Oxford resident for 30 years and says she votes as a progressive Democrat. Smith voted yes on Issue 1 and says she has been a supporter of Planned Parenthood for more than 30 years.

“I've been active with Planned Parenthood,” Smith said. “So of course, the abortion issue is very important to me.”

Smith voted for Knight- Abowitz, Howard and Otto for school board. Smith says she knows Abbowitz and Otto personally.

“I know their character, I know their qualities, I know their backgrounds, I know their values,” Smith said. “They align with mine.”

Reporting by Senior Staff Writer Laura Giaquinto

Photo by Laura Giaquinto | The Miami Student
Kara Carver, center, passes out voting information at the Talawanda High School polling location. Her dad, Ivan Carver, is running for a position on Talawanda School Board.

8 a.m.

Eighth grader Kara Carver and Talawanda junior Kelsey Carver stood outside THS at 8 a.m. providing information about their father Ivan Carver in his run for Talawanda School Board.

“He tries to see both sides of the story for teachers and for students,” Kelsey Carver said. “He’s trying to get the best for everybody.”

Kara Carver said that having her dad run for school board has been a lot but exciting. 

“Last night I didn’t get home until midnight because I was putting up signs with him and then we had to go get more signs,” Kara said.

Similar to the Marcum Hotel polling location, there was no line at THS as voters slowly trickled in. When approaching the building, voters were met by volunteers from the Butler County Progressive PAC and volunteers for conservative school board candidate Ivan Carver. A “vote here” sign led voters past the volunteers and into the building to cast their ballots.

Nathaniel Logos, a new Oxford resident, went to the polls to vote exclusively on Issues 1 and 2. Logos said he voted yes on both but the main issue drawing him to the polls was issue 1. 

“With all the states that are taking away rights and … threatening women’s lives, I thought it very important to protect that here in Ohio,” Logos said. 

Another voter and self-proclaimed Democrat, Marlene Hoffman, said she voted for all the candidates endorsed on the Butler County Progressive PAC pamphlet. She said she never misses an election and voted yes on Issue 1 and Issue 2.

“We fought so hard to get the damn birth control pill …” Hoffman said. “I lived through that, and I think it is a woman's choice and it’s a personal matter.”

Elijah Mahler, a senior political science major at Miami, also came out to vote this morning. Although he didn’t reveal which ways he voted, he did say that he thinks it’s an important thing to do. 

“I think that [voting] is part of our civic duty,” Mahler said. “We have two duties, voting and jury duty, and this is easier than jury duty.” 

Reporting by Senior Staff Writer Laura Giaquinto and Assistant Campus & Community Editor Chloe McKinney

9 a.m.

It was a bright, crisp day at the Marcum Hotel this morning. However, the weather was not enough to tempt voters to go to the polls. Only a handful of people went in to vote during the mid-morning hours. 

One of these people was Claire Hannah, a political science major, who voted yes on Issue 1 and 2.

“I feel very strongly about the issues.” Hannah said. 

When asked about how she voted for the local city council and school board elections, Hannah said that she did not particularly care, and had not formed any strong opinions. The main thing that Hannah thought was important was making sure that people vote in today’s election. 

“Voting is a civic duty,” Hannah said, “and it’s one of the civic duties that’s very important.”

Reporting by Contributing Writer Molly Fahy

10 a.m.

Outside the Marcum Hotel, students with RedHawks Count, which is housed in the Wilks Institute for Leadership and Service, were tabling to help voters before they got to the polls. Melinda Barman, a junior at Miami, and Valeri Hernandez Godinez, a junior English major, made sure students had a valid form of voter ID, helped students with provisional ballots and fielded any questions students had before voting.

“We’re just out here doing a little informational tabling, making sure that people are casting their votes and there isn’t any barriers in between,” Hernandez Godinez said.

At 3 p.m., RedHawks Count will be hosting a Party at the Polls with food, giveaways and other fun activities.

Kathleen Knight-Abowitz, an incumbent running for Talawanda School Board, was also outside Marcum Hotel advocating for Issue 1.

“School board races are nonpartisan, so I am permitted to work on behalf of issues, and I feel strongly about Issue 1, so I wanted to give some time today to support that,” Knight-Abowitz said.

Knight-Abowitz cast her ballot in the morning and was excited for the outcome of the election.

“I woke up today with election day jitters,” she said. 

Reporting by Print Managing Editor Alice Momany

11 a.m.

Marcum Hotel was gaining more traffic by early afternoon. The voter turnout was meager but students and community members alike were showing up to cast their ballot.

Among those students was Jacob Kendall, a first-year economics major. He said he showed up to vote today because he loves America. When asked about Issues 1 and 2, he said he voted no for 1 and yes for 2 because legalized marijuana could be a great thing for Ohio.

“We just want to exercise our rights as Americans to vote,” Kendall said. “A lot of  people don't have the privilege to and we want to exercise that for sure.”

Kendall wasn't the only student to vote at Marcum. Sean Eber, a first-year biology and pre-med major, said as an out-of-state student from Illinois, it was a little confusing figuring out how to vote but it wasn’t too bad.

“I think it's pretty easy and simple process and it's just a way to get your voice heard,” Eber said.

Poll worker Sande Raabe was going on her break at 11:30 a.m. after being at the polls since 5:30 a.m. When asked about her opinion on younger generations voting, she said it’s very important that everyone votes.

“I think it's great,” Raabe said. “[Younger people] should be voting. You're the ones that are affected by some of the issues.”

Reporting by Campus & Community Editor Taylor Stumbaugh

4 p.m.

As the rays of sun stretched ever longer over the Marcum Hotel, the voters trickled in with backpacks still on.

Over the course of half an hour, more than a dozen Miami students walked out of the hotel with an “I voted” sticker on. On their way in, tables set up by Miami Activities and Planning and Associated Student Government made sure they knew what ID they would need to vote and who was on the ballot.

Honor Feagin, a junior information and cybersecurity management major said that the issues on the ballot pulled her to the ballot box.

“I feel pretty strongly about the abortion issue as many people do,” Feagin said. “I just think your body belongs to you.”

Feagin said that she voted yes on Issues 1 and 2, but she didn’t know who to vote for in the Oxford City Council election.

“I got in there and I didn’t remember who I was supposed to vote for,” Feagin said. “I just kind of clicked [the box].”

Reporting by Campus & Community Editor Kasey Turman

5 p.m.

As the colors of dusk began to wash over the Marcum Hotel, the stream of voters started to trickle. Though the polls remained open for an additional two and a half hours, only a few voters were present throughout the early evening.

Natalie Upholz, a senior psychology and Spanish double major with a minor in political science, said she decided to vote because of the ballot initiatives.

“Ohio is one of the states that allows us to have ballot initiatives,” Upholz said. “And I think that if we’re allowed to do that, we should go out and express what we believe in. We have that right to. I think it’s our civic duty.”

Upholz also said that she voted ‘yes’ on Issues 1 and 2 because she believes that both access to abortion and the usage of marijuana should be each person’s own, individual decision.

“I think that it’s every person’s right to have control over their own bodily autonomy and their own medical decisions,” Upholz said. “[It’s the] same thing for Issue 2. I just think that that’s something that [is] an individual’s decision whether they want to use it [marijuana] or not.”

Eric Brown, a part-time political science student at Miami and DuBois employee, also showed up to the polls. He has lived in Oxford since fall 2019. Brown said that as a political science major, voting is important to him.

“It’s the one time that we, as a society, can go out and make a change if we really deem it necessary,” Brown said. Brown also voted ‘yes’ on Issues 1 and 2.

Charles Ganelin, a retired Miami faculty member and Oxford resident of over 20 years, was also present as a poll worker.

“After retirement, I needed to get involved in a number of things,” Ganelin said. “I volunteer in a number of organizations … I’ve been a poll worker for the past year and a half.”

Ganelin voted early at the Butler County Board of Elections, and he voted for Talawanda School District Board of Education incumbents Otto, Howard and Knight-Abowitz. 

“They are by far the best candidates,” Ganelin said. “They’re experienced. They have handled a serious budget situation deftly. They’re the most qualified for the school board.”

Ganelin also voted for Rousmaniere, the incumbent for Oxford Township Trustee.

“Kate Rousmaniere was Oxford Township Trustee, [she] has experience on city council, [and she] has been the mayor of Oxford,” Ganelin said. “She enjoyed the political work and being involved in the community in that way, and she was a superb choice to be re-elected to township trustee.”

With an hour and a half remaining until the polls close, Marcum voter foot traffic continued to decrease.

Reporting by Staff Writer Raquel Hirsch

Photo by Raquel Hirsch | The Miami Student
Voters walk to their polling station.

6 p.m.

As election day winds down, the number of voters ebbed at the Marcum Hotel. The Wilks Institute for Leadership and Civic Engagement as well as the MAP tables both packed up their booths and headed home for the day around 6 p.m.

Still, voters came out to cast their ballots for the local election and Issues 1 and 2.

Sarah Robb, a junior psychology and independent studies double major, said coming out to vote today was important for multiple reasons, one being that it is a civic duty for those living in Oxford.

“I feel like local elections have just as much of an influence,” Robb said. “It’s beneficial for the place I go to school.” 

Robb mainly came out to vote Tuesday for Issues 1 and 2, rather than for those running in the various local races.

“I came out here for more of the constitutional amendments,” Robb said. “The local stuff is not going to impact me as much.”

Mason Stahl, a senior emerging technology in business and design and entrepreneurship double major, agreed that voting, for him, was more about Issues 1 and 2 rather than those running in the local election.

“I don’t know the local government,” Stahl said. “But I care about individual rights and freedoms.”

Stahl was unable to vote in the election because he did not have a form of identification on him at voting, per recently changed Ohio voting laws. He said he will vote in future elections and still strongly cares about the issues presented on the Nov. 7 ballot. 

7 p.m.

The flow of voters came to a stop shortly before the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening. One poll worker reported that around 270 voters cast their ballots at the location before 6:30 p.m., and did not believe that number would reach more than 300 by the end of the night. 

Reporting by Asst. Campus and Community Editor Olivia Patel and Staff Writer Raquel Hirsch