Students get out the vote in phone-banking competition

Students from both sides of the aisle came together in a final match-up to take part in a phone-banking competition in the Annenberg East Lobby for the final day of the 2012 election.

The competition, sponsored by USC College Democrats, USC College Republicans and the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, aimed at motivating and encouraging voters to turn out on Election Day.

For USC College Democrats President Aaron Taxy, the goal of the competition was to encourage eligible and capable voters to cast their ballots.

“In the few precious days leading up to the election, now we transition to make sure that everyone who is committed to vote for the president has the opportunity to submit their ballot and make their vote count,” Taxy said. “We do this by calling them to remind them about Election Day, let them know where their polling place is and making sure that they have a ride to the polling place if they are unable to drive themselves.”

USC College Republicans President Maddy Lansky emphasized the impact that voters will not only have on the presidential election, but also on the localized ballot measures.

“What we’re hoping to accomplish today is just to call as many voters as we can in California — and also possibly Nevada — to remind them to get to the polls and vote,” Lansky said. “Especially in California, this is important because a lot of Republicans might not want to get out and vote because the state is most certainly going to Barack Obama. However, for the congressional candidates, for the state assembly candidates and for the California propositions, it is critical that they get out and cast their vote.”

Throughout the election cycle, both Democrat and Republican students have mobilized in an attempt to solidify support for their respective candidates among voters. According to College Republicans Membership Director Lisa Ebiner Gavit, in the final hours of the election, the focus has shifted from swing-states to more local voters.

“We have been doing a lot of phone-banking, both off campus and at the Republican victory office in Thousand Oaks to precinct walk and phone-bank for both Romney and for local candidates,” Gavit said. “We’ve been trying to impact the swing states, but now we’re just calling locally to get out the vote and make sure that people don’t forget to turn in their absentee ballots or show up to the polls.”

The USC College Democrats set a goal of making 5,000 calls this election, which, Students for Obama President Kaya Masler said, they are close to meeting.

“The reason that we want to make calls is because a call means more than any kind of online advertisement or any kind of ad on TV that people can see —  it’s personal,” Masler said. “We get to talk to voters about why we think this election is important to us and we get to have an honest conversation.”

To Masler, the grassroots efforts made by Americans across the country can have a profound effect on the outcome of the election.

“If [Obama] wins, it will be because thousands —  no, millions — of people got out and just out of the goodness of their hearts decided that they were going to spend 30 minutes making a call instead of making dinner — it just makes the hugest difference in the world,” Masler said.

Masler added: “They talk about this election being polarizing, but nothing has ever brought people together this way.”

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