EDITOR’S NOTE: This semester WTVR.com has partnered with VCU’s School of Mass Communications “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project. Students from the project reported the following story.
RICHMOND, Va. – With just one more day to go in the campaign, there is one group of voters that Republican Ken Cuccinelli needs to win over to become the next governor of Virginia: Female voters. He currently trails his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe by 16 points among women.
Carol Noggle, legislative coordinator of the League of Women Voters of Virginia, believes that women are likely to have a significant impact this year.
“There were more women than men who are registering to vote,” Noggle said in a phone interview. “The higher turnout may be among women than men,” said Noggle, who thinks that after the election it will be important for female voters to remain engaged. She recommended young voters to watch the election and what happens with the legislators when they start drafting bills.
According to a recent poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, 51 percent of female voters are likely to vote for McAuliffe, while only 35 percent are likely to vote for Cuccinelli.
Samantha Merze, a 25-year-old retail associate, said she will vote for McAuliffe, because he is not interfering with women’s autonomy.
“He’s letting it be their decision, which it should be in general,” said Merze. She added that she finds Cuccinelli’s pro-life opinions too restrictive and said that she’d move out of the state, if he is elected.
Retired school teacher Ivy Broaddus also said women’s rights are very important to her.
“I think adult women should have the right to make choices for themselves pertaining to their own body and pertaining to birth control,” Broaddus said. “I’m 100 percent in favor and in support of women’s rights, so I’m going to be looking at the candidate who supports women’s rights and adult women having the right to make that choice themselves.”
The pro-life stance of Cuccinelli and the pro-choice viewpoint of McAuliffe are the starkest differences among the candidates in this election campaign.
Cuccinelli supports requiring women to have ultrasounds before having an abortion, while McAuliffe does not support that requirement.
But Mallory Quigley, media coordinator for Women Speak Out Virginia, a pro-Cuccinelli group, said that McAuliffe’s strong female support stems from his ad campaigns. She thinks that the ads discuss a fictitious “war on women.”
“These ads lie about [Cuccinelli’s] record and insult women by reducing them to only a few issues,” Quigley said. Cuccinelli’s supporters were waving “Women for Cuccinelli” signs during the last days of the campaign in an effort to improve his current standing.
But female voters interviewed for this story seem worried about Cuccinelli’s political agenda. VCU student Kate Tierney said that no politician should have the right to tell her how to use her body.
“Being a woman is something very important to me. It’s important for us to have the choice to do what we want with our bodies,” Tierney said.
“There’s so many reasons women would want [an abortion], and that’s something that should be taken into account. Not necessarily for myself, but for anyone who may need one,” Tierney added.
VCU freshman Falon Larose also had issues with men deciding issues with women’s health.
“I think that a lot of men tend to feel that abortions are bad, but they are not the ones who are having to go through the process,” Larose said.
Veteran Wanda Harvey is concerned with the fact that the candidates are revisiting issues such as abortion over and over again.
“There are more important things to dwell on in our society other than abortions, such as our current unemployment rate and the number of people we have living in the U.S. that are below poverty levels,” Harvey said.
Abortion is of course not the only issue in the election. Women will have to be aware of many issues, if they are to vote for who they think will be the best choice, said Noggle of League of Women Voters of Virginia. She thinks that women should be well informed in a variety of subjects before voting on Tuesday.
By Alex Carrigan and Whitney Muse (Special to WTVR.com)
This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s School of Mass Communications.