From first-time voters to longtime residents, Election Day is big

(Photo by Jamelah E.)

GREAT FALLS, Va. — We talked to voters in Virginia, a swing state whose former governor, Sen. Tim Kaine, is also Hillary Clinton’s running mate, to see what issues mattered most to them in this election.

Daniel Barnes, Michael Berger, Rachel Falek, Kirsten Jay and Anna Zipkin, journalism students at American University,  filed this report.

Yong Li, 54, and Yan Tian, 57, husband and wife and IT professionals, came out to vote because they said it was their “citizen’s duty.”

“We need to show our support for this Democratic country,” Li said.

“I really don’t like either the Republican or Democrat,” Li said. “The biggest issue would be on the economy. We want to make sure that we are still the strongest country. I don’t think either candidate could do that. With the candidates showing up like this, there’s a strong tendency not to do well.”

Li and his wife didn’t vote in the primaries this year and neither identified with a one political party.

“You can call us independents,” Li said.

Li and Tian came to the Washington metro area in 1986 to attend American University. They voted today with their 21-year-old son, a first-time voter.

“He came all the way from New York,” Tian said. “He thought this was a battleground state. He wanted to come down here and vote.”  

Photo credit: Rachel Falek

Safoura Haghighi, 31, elementary school teacher and artist, is a Persian immigrant who voted for Hillary Clinton, and compared Donald Trump to former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We had a very bad person in Iran,” she said. “His name was Ahmadinejad. When he came, the country goes down. I believe Trump is exactly, his character, is exactly like Trump.”

The future of the country was Haghighi’s motivating factor for voting.

“[The country] should be in good hands with someone who knows what to do,” Haghighi said. “I believe Hillary. She’s really prepared. She really worked for this for many many years.”

Haghighi said Trump simply does not have the experience that Clinton has.

“[Trump] didn’t do anything for it,” she said. “He just came and he has the opportunities. He’s rich. But she worked for it for many many years.”

Photo Credit: Anna Zipkin

Michael Medina, Safeway cashier and a Venezuelan immigrant who came to the United States in the 1970s, said he doesn’t identify with Republicans or Democrats.

“I lived in this wonderful country for almost 50 years,” he said. “I don’t follow a political party, I just do what I think is good for the country.”

Medina said that he is most troubled about the economy.

“Economic issues mostly, like employment, inflation,” Medina said. “Different things that involve economy. Inflation is something that I do worry about. I think everyone has contributed to it.”

Lisa Napoli, 51, voted for Hillary Clinton in both the primaries and the presidential election. The lifelong Democrat said Clinton was the best candidate to deal with the social issues of the country. “

You know, equality across the board,” Napoli said. “Her whole platform is that.”

Napoli thinks that Virginia will vote for Clinton, too. She said it’s a little scary to think about how Great Falls will vote because the town is conservative, but that she is hopeful.

Lee Goodwin, 54, came out on Tuesday to cast his vote for Donald Trump because of one key issue. Goodwin is strongly pro-life.

“What is more important?” Goodwin said. “What could be more important?”

Goodwin said he doesn’t consider himself a party loyalist. Trump didn’t earn his vote just by being a Republican, but he would call himself an issue loyalist.

“Trump just happens to be on the right side of those issues and [Clinton] was in the wrong,” he said.

Goodwin was strongly supportive of Trump’s decision to choose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. Goodwin represents the type of value-voters that Trump was trying to reassure by selecting the strong socially conservative Pence.

“Great choice,” Goodwin said about Pence’s selection. “First choice Trump ever made that I thought was good. I definitely support it.”

Firoozeh Homayounmehr, Great Falls,  moved from Iran to America almost 40 years ago.  

“I have lived in America for almost 40 years and it took me a few years to become a citizen, so ever since I’ve been able to vote, I have voted,” he said.  “I take the voting right very seriously because the country that I came from, we didn’t have that privilege. I’m from Iran so that’s why I appreciate this right more than perhaps other people who are born in America.”

Homayounmehr, who works for the Corporation for National and Community Service, voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.  

“I of course voted for Hillary. I think she’s a brilliant leader,” Homayounmehr said. “I always vote but especially for this election it was more important because of the huge risk factor that is Donald Trump. I wanted to make sure it would not happen.”

Kirsten Brothers, 21, student at George Mason, said, “This is actually my first time voting … I wanted to have my voice heard.”

Brothers also had interest in other ballot initiatives.

“I cared about the meal tax, I don’t know, I cared a lot about the issues and it’s kind of been ingrained in my mind to vote so I worked my schedule around so I could do this.”

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