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Q & A with youngest people getting out the vote

Monday - 11/5/2012, 10:39am  ET

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James Christopherson, vice chair of communications of the DC Young Republicans. (Courtesy James Christopherson)
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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.

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