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Ohio Young Black Democrats Say Candidates Must Try Harder To Boost Turnout

Kabir Bhatia
Bishop Chui (left) and Zakiyyah Malik are both members of Ohio Young Black Democrats, and both expressed concern about getting people to the polls this November.

Most of the Democrats running in statewide races spoke at an Ohio Young Black Democrats event over the weekend near Cleveland, addressing several issues including voter turnout.

A small crowd gathered at the Warrensville Heights Civic Center on Saturday, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, who was asked about police brutality.

“We need to have better training, we need to have more accountability,” Cordray said. “And again, I think the cameras and the visibility of this is leading to more accountability, but it’s something that we should not accept and condone anywhere in our society.”

That wasn’t a good enough answer for Bishop Chui, a member of the Ohio Young Black Democrats. He says if Democrats want votes, they need to speak more directly to concerns about the issues.

“The main concerns for the party and for this candidate is voter turnout,” Cui said. “And if he doesn’t really step it up, and give voters a reason to show up, they’re not going to show up.”

Chui also says the low turnout for the event – about 20 people – is another sign that Ohio’s Democrats need to start addressing the issues in a way that speaks to groups like his.

Rob Richardson, who’s running for state treasurer, expressed concern about voter turnout.

“I don’t think there’s a ‘Blue Wave.’ I don’t think that’s going to come,” Richardson said. “That’s like you’re hoping that people are just going to respond because of what’s going on in Washington [and] what’s going on in Columbus. We can’t hope for that – we have to fight for it.”

Richardson said Democrats will have to make a bigger effort at increasing turnout.

“We’re going to need more people to come out to these events,” Richardson said. “We’re going to have to have more people involved. We’re going to need more people to vote. You’re going to have to knock on more doors.”

Richardson and several of the other speakers said they’re pleased with the primary results from last week, such as the passage of Issue 1, a state constitutional amendment to change how congressional district maps are drawn

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.