Q & A with youngest people getting out the vote

Stephanie Steinberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Members of the DC Young Democrats and DC Young Republicans are making their last phone calls and knocks on doors to support their candidate and spread the word to vote.

The two groups represent hundreds of politically active individuals ages 18 to 35 from D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

On Saturday, Toby Quaranta, 28, the president of the DC Young Democrats, canvassed with 300 members in Hampton Roads, Va. A few states away, James Christophersen, 26, the vice chair of communications of the DC Young Republicans, went door-to- door with members in Ohio.

WTOP caught up with both representatives to get their take on the election and find out the concerns younger voters have leading into Tuesday night.

Q: How are you gearing up for the election?

DCYD: For the last few weeks, months really, we’ve been taking active volunteers into swing states. The DC Young Democrats have brought volunteers into Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia for overnight trips. At this point, we’ve probably knocked on almost 75,000 doors on behalf of the president’s campaign and other Democratic candidates. We’re all really excited, and we’re all fired up and we’re ready to go.

DCYR: We’re out here in Ohio in Congressman Renacci’s district working for his election campaign as well as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for president and vice president. We’re out here going door-to-door, dropping off literature and talking with voters and making phone calls and other sorts of voter contact to encourage people to vote early and take this election as seriously as it needs to be taken.

Q: How important is the youth vote in this election?

DCYD: The youth vote is extraordinarily important. Youth turnout is increasing every election, and young people are very passionate about this president. This president has done a lot of good things for young people. He ended the war in Iraq, which disproportionately affects the younger generation. He’s responsibly ending the war in Afghanistan, which disproportionately affects the younger generation. His health care plan has worked to bring down health care costs, which impacts young professionals trying to start off their professional career in life. Young people have benefited greatly from this president’s policies so we’re very energized, and we’re very important to his reelection.

DCYR: I think it’s hugely important, and that’s something that has been recognized over the last several elections, is the growing influence that the youth vote has as more and more young people recognize the need for them to be involved in politics and recognize how their vote is going to determine the direction that this country is headed – whether it’s a good one that’s going to provide prosperity and good opportunities for them or a bad one that’s going to trap them under the government’s boot heel, impacting them and fostering them to rely on the federal government.

Q: What is the most important issue of this election?

DCYD: The single-most important issue in this election is allowing the president to continue the change that he’s brought. The president has done a lot of good work to change the tone in Washington. He has passed a number of good laws and a number of good policies that are really going to help our younger generation – from student loans to international affairs and ending the war in Iraq. So I’d say the most important issue is allowing the president to continue the good work that he’s already done and to see it through.

DCYR: I think the most important issue, particularly for youth voters, is the way we feel betrayed by President Obama, the failure to improve the economy and the job situation that we’ve seen. Young people have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country right now with nearly 40 percent of young people either unemployed or underemployed. These are folks who went and spent a lot of money going to college or were not able to go to college. There’s no opportunity for them to have a job. There’s no future we can see with the current leadership. It’s very important for us to step up and make a good vote, one that’s going to lead us towards a path of prosperity.

Q: What are you worried about going into election night?

DCYD: I’m always worried about voter turnout and voter suppression. Right now we’re canvassing in neighborhoods that have historically experienced voter suppression, and I want to make sure every vote counts and every person, every American, gets the right to exercise their right to vote. I always worry about that as an activist. Honestly, that’s one of the most important reasons why volunteers like the DC Young Democrats members who are down here to get out and knock on doors and get out the vote. We want to make sure that everybody knows how to vote, where to vote and what they need to bring to the polls.

DCYR: I think one of the biggest concerns that’s been in the Republican Party for a while, and is a very legitimate concern, is the amount of voter fraud that could be happening and is happening many places that don’t require voter identification. There’s a huge history of absentee of ballots, particularly military absentee ballots, being lost or destroyed or just never issued, and that’s a way that certain parties have attempted to stifle a particular demographic vote in the past because they know how that demographic tends to vote, and they’re concerned what that may mean for the election. So we’re obviously concerned that those sorts of voter suppression activities are going to take place, and may already be taking place, and the impact that they can have on the election.

Q: What’s the worst case scenario of election night?

DCYD: The president not winning. That would be a step in the wrong direction for America. As far as individual outcomes, I think one bad case scenario would that we simply don’t get out our voters in key places like Columbus, Ohio, like Hampton Roads in Northern Virginia, like the Philadelphia city and suburbs. I think that’s a pretty bad case scenario, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we’re going to win, and I think we’re going to win very strongly.

DCYR: I think for us as the DC Young Republicans the worst case scenario would be another four years of a president who has not delivered on the promises he’s made, another four years of the same failed policies that continues to drive us deeper into unemployment, deeper into debt. We’re at $13 trillion in debt, nearly half that added by this president alone. I think that would be a failure on election night if we see those policies continue after this election.

Q: Do you have a prediction on who will win each swing state?

DCYD: I genuinely believe the president sweeps them all. When the polls are within the margin, the candidate with the ground game wins almost every time. I think Romney wins North Carolina.

DCYR: I’m a person who really doesn’t like to count my eggs before they hatch, and so it’s very difficult for me to make that kind of prediction, but I think the polling we’re seeing in places like Pennsylvania, in Ohio, Virginia are very much trending in favor of Romney, and I think we can be fairly confident in it being a very close race no matter which way it ends up going.

Q: If Romney wins, what do you think will happen the next four years?

DCYD: I think we’ll return to the polices of President George Bush if Gov. Romney were to win. If Gov. Romney were to win, he’d take us back to the same failed policies that we had during the Bush administration. We’d see more push to cutting taxes as the answer to every question, and that’s something I think would really hurt our country.

Q: If Obama wins, what do you think will happen the next four years?

DCYR: I think we’re going to see four more years of the same and indeed four more worse years. We’ve seen him mention to visiting foreign dignitaries about how he’s gong to have more flexibility after the next election because it will be his last election, and I think our biggest concern is what sort of flexibility that is going to produce. He knows he’ll no longer be accountable to people in a voting way after the next election. The policies President Obama has enacted in these last four years have been extremely radical. We only expect the next four years to be even more radical should Barack Obama be re-elected.

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