Real-Time: Voices Outside the Polling Booth

Youth Today took to the streets of Washington, D.C., Atlanta and rural Georgia on this Election Day to capture the voices of young people outside the voting booth after they’ve cast their vote. 

[6:57 pm]

Mike De RobbioMike De Robbio (pictured left) was seventh in line when his polling station in the battleground state of Virginia opened at 6 a.m. today. Vice-chairman of the College Republicans at George Mason University, the 22-year-old wanted to cast his ballot before his responsibilities as a student government clerk took over his Election Day.

De Robbio, who’s from New Jersey, lost a lot of childhood memories when Superstorm Sandy blew open the windows of his family home last week, he said. His family is fine, however, power is returning to the neighborhood, and they’re ready to rebuild, he said. 

He credits New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his leadership in the wake of the storm damage. Though Christie has been vocal in his praise for President Barack Obama’s leadership in turn, De Robbio wasn’t swayed. 

De Robbio identifies himself as an American and a conservative first, and a Republican second. Originally a Ron Paul supporter – he voted for Paul throughout the Virginia primaries – De Robbio believes Mitt Romney will win the state and the presidential election.

Romney’s not his idea of the perfect conservative candidate, De Robbio admitted. There are several issues he doesn’t agree on with the Republican Party, social issues like marriage equality for gays and lesbians, but he’d like to work from within the party to change its stance on those, he said.

It’s not the government’s business to define what marriage could be, De Robbio said, explaining that one of his best friends was raised by two moms. “Love is love. A union is a union.”

He’d also like Romney to be less hawkish on foreign policy, he said. But overall, he thinks Romney’s the guy who will work with moderate Democrats to create jobs, simplify the country’s complex tax code and close corporate tax loopholes. 

Ultimately, De Robbio believes social issues are secondary to what is really at stake in this election: the economy. The state of the economy affects everything, he said: education, tax rates, take-home pay, jobs. 

If Obama wins, the fiscal consequences for the country will be dire, De Robbio said. Obama will just keep giving away money for education, for all kinds of programs, and that will come back to haunt the country, he said. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Reported by 

[6:14 pm] 

Name: Adam TobinAdam Tobin

Age: 20

Hometown: Cartersville, Ga.

First Time Voter: Yes

What Issues Brought You to the Polls?

“Obviously, the most important one, the presidential election.”

Candidate Voted For: Barack Obama

Reason Why?

“I like the direction he’s headed, what he’s saying we’re going to do, as long as he follows through. The issues he’s already helped us with, saving the car industry, I just think he’ll do a good job with it.” 

[6:01 pm]

Rachel Grimesey Until she walked into the voting booth this morning, Rachel Grimesey (picured left), 20, an international relations major at George Mason University in Virginia, did not know which presidential candidate she was going to pick.

She cared deeply about women’s rights. But she also believed in conservative values. 

What clinched the deal for her vote for President Barack Obama, she said, was his support for issues related to women’s health.

“Because I’m completely independent of my parents, I go to Planned Parenthood,” Grimesey said. Going there for her health care needs, however, often subjects her to name-calling and other ugly attacks, she said. 

“When I went into the voting booth, all I could think of was how that wouldn’t change under Romney,” Grimesey said.

So she voted for Obama.

She liked several things about Romney, including his nationalism, his business experience and his belief in American prosperity, she said. But the world was changing, she said, pointing to civil rights in the United States and the struggle for democracy in the Middle East.

Romney’s criticism of Obama’s Middle Eastern trip as an “apology tour” was the perfect example of how the Republican candidate just doesn’t understand how important it is for the United States to respect the sovereignty of developing countries, especially in the Middle East, Grimesey said. The aggressive and interventionist policies of the past just build resentment in foreign countries and cannot work in the long term, she said.

“Romney would not be able to change with the rest of the world,” Grimesey said. “There’s a lot more equality in the world today, and I don’t think that Mitt Romney is ready to cope with that.”

Reported by 

[5:46 pm]

 Name: Tauran JohnsonTauran Johnson

Age: 21

Hometown: Cartersville, Ga.

First Time Voter: Yes

What Issues Brought You to the Polls?

“Pretty much education.”

Candidate Voted For: Barack Obama

Reason Why?

“I feel like his policies for the next four years will lead us into the direction to getting us back to how the country’s supposed to be.”

Reported by James Swift. Photo by James Swift.

[4:57 pm]

The line of students waiting to vote snaked down a long hallway in a building at George Mason University in the heart of Fairfax County, a diverse northern county touted as key to a electoral victory in the battleground state of Virginia.

Brian RuizBrian Ruiz (pictured left), 18, a first-time voter, stood patiently at the back of the line on Election Day. He was waiting to cast his ballot to re-elect President Barack Obama.

He leaned Democrat because he thought Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was likely to reduce funding for “the things that can nurture our future,” Ruiz said. “I feel like funding for education will be cut under Mitt Romney.” 

Standing patiently in line not far behind Ruiz, Chris White (picturedChris White right), 25, a university employee who works in circulation at the library, said he had been expecting an even longer wait to vote. In the last election, voters had to carpool to the polling place, he said, so voting in a central building on campus was very convenient.

White did not want to say who he was voting for, but said that social freedoms and LGBT issues were most important to him this election.

Reported by 

[4:30 pm]

Name: Akeavia MaysAkeavia Mays

Age: 22

Hometown: Cartersville, Ga.

First Time Voter: No

What Issues Brought You to the Polls?

“The fact that we need Medicaid and food stamps, we need to keep those. I use them, and I know how much it’s important to not only me, but people like me.”

Candidate Voted For: Barack Obama

Reason Why?

“Because I feel that he has a strong background with what he’s done. He’s accomplished everything that he said he was going to do prior to becoming the President of the United States, and I feel like he can only build us and make us a stronger nation.”

Reported by James Swift. Photo by James Swift.

[3:59 pm]

Amir WilliamsEighteen-year-old Amir Williams (pictured left) held up a cardboard sign proclaiming, “VOTE!” as he perched on top of a red vehicle that vaguely resembled a hydra-headed bicycle on Election Day at George Mason University in northern Virginia, a traditionally blue part of a swing state.

The 18-year-old freshman wore a grey hooded sweatshirt declared “11.6.12. Mason Votes.” He was on a get-out-the-vote excursion with a group of other young people on campus, rallying them to the polls, waking them up if necessary in their dorms, and ferrying them on their red bicycle built for seven.

His vote had been affected by his concern about the cost of college, he said. Finding a good job after college and affording a house in this economy were other top concerns for him, he said.

In his first presidential election, Williams said he had cast his ballot for President Barack Obama.

Reported by 

[3:37 pm]

Name: Cassie TryonCassie Tryon

Age: 18

Hometown: Cartersville, Ga.

First Time Voter: Yes

What Issues Brought You to the Polls?

“I want a new President.”

Candidate Voted For: Mitt Romney

Reason Why?

“I want a new President.” 

Reported by James Swift. Photo by James Swift.

[3:01 pm]

Nichols and BerninghausLauren Nichols, 21 and Scott Berninghaus (pictured left), 23,voting at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, say fairly few of their fellow students are voting.  Nichols spoke about a Georgia statewide referendum that would give the state the power to authorize charter schools, something that now only local school boards can do.

Q:  So what issues brought you out to vote? 

LN: For me it was, I don’t think charter schools should be increased. I want to teach and most charter schools you don’t have to have all the certifications that you need in other schools. I’m not a fan.

SB: I really have an issue with how the military treats people in the Middle East. And abortion is always a big topic with me.  I hear from the news and diff people who have been in the military, that the commander-in-chief right now, they don’t have any respect for him. When people are fighting for our freedom I would like them to respect who’s in charge. 

Reported by Maggie Lee. Photo by Maggie Lee.

[2:23 pm]

Name: Aaron FosterAaron Foster

Age: 20

Hometown: Cartersville, Ga.

First Time Voter: Yes

What Issues Brought You to the Polls?

“I just felt like I had to vote. I didn’t really follow the campaigning too much, but there are some key issues, but I’m just voting because I need to vote.”

Candidate Voted For: Barack Obama

Reason Why?

“He’s actually helped out the economy a lot with the things he’s done, and some things Mitt Romney’s doing I just don’t like.”

Reported by James Swift. Photo by James Swift.

[2:02 pm]

Caryn WomackName: Caryn Womack

Age: 24

Hometown: Cartersville, Ga.

First Time Voter: No

What Issues Brought You to the Polls?

“I just really wanted to vote, because I think that it’s a responsibility that everyone needs to take advantage of. But I’d definitely say that some of the bigger issues were, I’d probably say, the stuff about pro-life and pro-choice. And definitely things on tax reform.”

Candidate Voted For: Mitt Romney

Reason Why?

“I really wanted to vote for Obama, originally, because I thought he did a good job for the first two years, but then his last few years, I just wasn’t as impressed with the amount of change that he promised, and I just think that it’s time for someone new.”

Reported by James Swift. Photo by James Swift. 

[1:46 pm]

Heads turned as a red bicycle-looking contraption piled with sevenVote Mob people teetered its way up the walkway toward the student center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., on Election Day. (Pictured right).

As the contraption’s riders cheered and yelled, one held up a sign saying, “VOTE!”

Jaime Jimenez-Moreno, 22, who was pedaling the seven-person vehicle, said they were from Vote Mob, a nonpartisan organization that was working to get students out to vote. They’d been using the red contraption to draw people out, using a megaphone to wake kids up in their dorms and even offering them rides to the polling station in their red vehicle. 

Jimenez-Moreno was born in California, raised in Texas, and moved to Fairfax four years ago. A college senior majoring in global affairs at George Mason, he said he voted for Obama because immigration and Medicare are important issues for him. 

Andria PembertonRiding the vehicle with Jimenez-Moreno was Andria Pemberton (pictured left), 18, a Mississippi native who voted for Obama by absentee ballot. A freshman nursing student, Pemberton said financial aid and health care were the issues most important to her. 

She felt particularly strongly about women’s right to abortion, Pemberton said. “I think it should be our choice and not the government’s,” she said.

Reported by 

[1:29 pm]

Keenan Jones (pictured right), 21, first-time voter, in and from Atlanta:Keenan Jones

Q:  What issues brought you out today?

A: My mom sort of harassed me, just an hour before I came out, she called me and said “you’ve got to go out.” So that sort of influenced my choices.

Q: So how did you vote? 

A: I ended up voting for Barack. And there was also an amendment to increase the number of charter schools.  I voted yes to that. 

Reported by Maggie Lee. Photo by Maggie Lee. 

[12:42 pm]

Jordan Wilson, Helen Row, Jasmin ManeaJordan Wilson, Helen Row and Jasmin Manea (pictured left) waited five hours in line to see President Barack Obama speak at a rally in Prince Willliam County, Virginia, last Saturday. Today, they were back in line, this time to vote for Obama in their first ever presidential election, at a campus polling station at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Wilson, 19, said he wouldn’t be able to afford college without government financial aid. Obama has increased the amount of Pell grants, he said, but Romney is likely to privatize scholarships. “I am definitely here because of how easy it was to get funding,” he said.

Row and Manea, both 18, listed women’s rights as their top issue.

“Lord knows, I want to make my own decision,” Row said.

Wilson and Row also brought up Obama’s foreign policy as a reason for their support.

“I like how he is willing to talk to other countries,” Wilson said.

Row agreed. “Our image in the world has improved so much since he became president,” she said.

Reported by

[10:22 am]

Joseph Lim (pictured right), 23, Sugar Hill, Georgia voter Joeseph Lim, 23

Q:  What issues are important to you?

Healthcare issues are really important, and also economic issues.

Q:  What brought you out to vote? 

I got my citizenship last September … I’ve always wanted to vote. I’m Korean but I never voted over there … this opportunity that I was given, I was so stoked that I wanted know about who I was voting for and what values I was voting for and against … 

Q:  If you had it your way, what issues would you like to see the candidates focus on in their debates or ads or Facebook or where ever?

They did debate about global economy and global policy-making. I wish they would focus more on that. I’m interested in the world and what’s going on besides the economy. I also keep up with news from Europe, Asia, different parts of the world … [I’d like to see] them trying to understand the world in a broader perspective … that’s impacting our economy and our way of life so much, but it’s not covered as much [in the news] … 

Q:  How did you vote? 

I voted Democrat for the federal government but for state officials I voted Republican.

Q:  Anything to add about voting or elections?

People my age are not interested in politics as much. Maybe I don’t know if that’s because they’ve been so disappointed over the last four years or not … it kind of bugs me that we’re so indifferent about who is going o be president or what issues are at stake or what values are at stake.  It’s such a wonderful opportunity. People who are born as citizens, they don’t realize how important this is, I think. It’s kind of sad.

Reported by Maggie Lee. Photo from Lim’s personal Facebook page.


Jeanette Sosa

Early voter Jeanette Sosa (pictured left), 18, originally from New York City, now living in Atlanta. 

Q:  What issues are important to you in this election?

A: Definitely all the issues having to do with the military for me,
because I’m enlisted actually [in the U.S. Air Force] and I leave next
month so its very important for me to see either how much they support the military or don’t support it and things as far as that, cutting back on it.

I saw the VA hospital when I was still in school … and just to see better
treatment of people who served our country because you just don’t see a
lot of support for people who sacrificed a lot.

Q:   Who did you vote for?

I voted for Barack Obama. At first I was a little questionable about it
because I actually agree with some of [Mitt] Romney’s views with the
military, on how he actually supports the military and funding, and during campaigning he talked about military support and putting more money into the VA hospitals for people who served our country and things like that. But overall I agreed with Obama’s views.

Q:   Anything else to say about the election or voting?

Just to get more people my age to vote. People my age just feel like it’s
no big deal: “I’m just graduating high school and I’m just starting
college,” but really it affects us the most, like cutting back on some of
my friends going to college, cutting back on helping them pay for college. Just make voting more important to people in my age group.

Reported by Maggie Lee. Photo from Sosa’s personal Twitter page.

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