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WA Democrats Make Final Push to Get Out The Vote

KUOW/Deborah Wang

Democratic Party activists in the state of Washington were in high gear this weekend conducting a massive get-out-the-vote campaign. Hundreds of volunteers manned phone banks and fanned out across neighborhoods to encourage people who hadn’t voted to turn in their ballots.

At the Obama for America campaign headquarters in South Seattle, about 100 people gathered for a final get-out-the-vote rally featuring Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Congressman Jim McDermott, and gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee.

The candidates posed for pictures with campaign staff and volunteers and encouraged them to keep working hard until election day.

“How many votes you guys going to get? About 150 a piece? Good. OK, I’m counting on you!” Inslee told a group of excited high school students who were preparing to go door-to-door.  “One hundred and fifty votes could make a difference.”

[asset-images[{"caption": "Democratic activist Joel Ware attends a get-out-the-vote rally in South Seattle.", "fid": "707", "style": "card_280", "uri": "public://201211/IMG_0206.JPG", "attribution": "Credit KUOW/Deborah Wang"}]]The event was the final stop in what has been billed as the “Jobs for Washington” bus tour, a multi-day event that featured various Democratic candidates talking about their plans for economic recovery.

But this weekend, the focus of their efforts shifted to preparing volunteers for the final days ahead.

“[The] goal here, I think, is to just fire up some of these volunteers who have been working tireless hours to help get these folks elected,” said Benton Strong, spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party. He says at this point, many campaign workers haven’t seen their families in days.

The Democrats are known for their well-organized get-out-the-vote operation. As of last week, the party had made more than three million phone calls and knocked on more than one million doors.

According to Strong, the party is not just targeting likely Democrats, but a wide variety of voters who have yet to cast their ballots.

“We know that Washington state is a blue state, and so we think a significant number of those people are going to vote for Jay Inslee, they are going to vote for Barack Obama, they are going to vote for Maria Cantwell,” said Strong. “So we are going to talk with as many of those folks as we can and get them to turn their ballots in.”

At Sunday’s get-out-the-vote-rally, Democratic leaders reminded volunteers just how important every vote is in the state. Congressman Jim McDermott, who is running for his 13th term, reflected back on the close and controversial gubernatorial race in 2004.  

“Christine Gregoire won by 127 votes, the governorship, now that’s about one vote for every 20 precincts in this state,” he told the crowd. “So you don’t know which one of those phone calls is going to make the difference.”

With this year’s governor’s race in a virtual dead heat, party activists say the final push for voters could make the difference between winning and losing on Election Day.  

Year started with KUOW: 2005