Columbus, May 7, 2021 — The People’s Party has kicked off petitioning for ballot access in the Buckeye state of Ohio. The seventh most populous state is also known as the Mother of Presidents, having elected seven U.S. presidents.
The Ohio People’s Party needs to gather the signatures of 60,000 voters by June 2022 to get a ballot line and run candidates. Organizers will be looking to double that as a cushion. All signatures must be in person.
Todd Jelen, People’s Party Midwest regional coordinator and Ohio petition elector, points to several factors holding down working Ohioans: a lack of affordable housing, few good-paying jobs, and a continuing opioid crisis.
“Instead of addressing these and other issues, the corporate parties would rather turn a blind eye to the suffering of average people and instead try to suppress votes, ban free speech through protest, and not hold anyone accountable until the story is too big to sweep under the rug,” said Jelen, a resident of Cleveland.
The state’s unemployment rate is around 5 percent, having seen a loss of 243,200 jobs in the past year, according to the federal Labor Department. Like other post-industrial Midwest states, Ohio residents have suffered from the continued loss of manufacturing jobs in the steel and automotive sectors, including the 2019 closure of the General Motors Lordstown factory in Youngstown that employed 1,400 people.
In Ohio, there is a large gap between rural and urban residents, labeled the Buckeye Divide. In many ways, however, it’s an artificial label created by politicians, pollsters, and academics to attempt to explain the voting behavior of this swing state where in recent history the state elected Obama and Trump. What it doesn’t account for are the increasing numbers of disaffected, independent and unregistered voters who are looking for the corporate free alternative that the People’s Party represents.
“In my small town, in particular, people are apathetic to politics because they know that neither party represents them,” said Carla Welch, petition elector and an Ohio People’s Party organizer. “It is a very poor community and poor people, in general, have been left behind in the two-party system.”
On a larger scale, she noted, “nearby metropolitan areas with a larger population of people of color have never been represented and are taken for granted by the Democratic Party.” As organizers fan out across the state and the People’s Party gains visibility, Welch believes that the party’s progressive populist message will resonate with voters in cities, rural areas and places in between. “People will discover that we are a party that represents people of all walks of life, that cares about them and their needs.”
The share of independent voters nationally has trended upward in the past two decades. Polls show that two out of every three voters now want a major new party, an all-time high. For the first time, half of the country identified as independent in a poll in February. Gallup projects that the unaffiliated population will continue growing as the corporate parties dissolve.
The People’s Party is organizing for ballot access in all 50 states and will hold its national founding convention this fall. It will run a slate of about a dozen candidates for Congress in 2022, and possibly a candidate for the U.S. Senate. The party will run a presidential candidate and at all levels in 2024. It opened community nominations for its first generation of candidates in April.