Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg, Va., believes the school's voters could make a difference in Virginia's voting direction

2:43 PM, Oct 24, 2012   |    comments
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WUSA) -  Andrea McCarren and Greg Guise have been criss-crossing the state of Virginia, and after hundreds of miles on the road, were in the Central part of the state Tuesday night.

Henrico County is one of the Commonwealth's battlegrounds. In 2008, after decades of voting for Republicans, the people who live here voted for Obama. That was the first time a Democratic candidate won the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Here, as it is across the state, key groups could make the difference, including students and evangelicals.

Bruce Springsteen brought his music, a message to support Obama, and a fervent call to action.

The message was not just for the masses, but a target audience:students, in target-rich Charlottesville.

"It's been great. It's actually started a lot of great political discussions, a lot of people watching the debates, just with how close it is. I think if it wasn't this close, that there wouldn't be as much of an active political discussion about it, " said Marley Hall,  a University of Virginia student.

And 65 miles south, in Lynchburg, is Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world, and the largest private school in the Commonwealth.

"One of the things that is so exciting for myself as a young person is to see that my vote actually counts. So many times in life, we think maybe, maybe not. But this election, we know that our vote counts," said Susan Alkire, a third year law student at Liberty.

Liberty launched a massive voter registration drive, urging its students to vote in this presidential election. That's nearly 13,000 residential students and 84,000 online.

"I believe that Liberty University's community of registered voters, voting for Biblical values, may well make the difference in which direction Virginia goes and where Virginia goes, may well be the next President of the United States," said Mat Staver, dean of Liberty Law School.

School administrators say Liberty doesn't tell its students which candidate to support. Still, Mitt Romney was Liberty's commencement speaker last spring.

Back here in Henrico County, there's a demographic split: this western part of the county is predominantly affluent, white and conservative. The eastern end is more diverse, with a growing black population that is largely Democratic.

In two weeks, we'll know whether high voter turnout in either side of the county made a difference in who is elected president.

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