A first-time voter talks about what going to the polls means to her. 12 days to Election Day: Time to make your plan to vote

Exercising our right to vote should not be deterred by the challenges this year has brought; there is a lot at stake this election season, including key issues for our community such as health care, education and jobs. Exercising our right to vote will play a decisive role in the 2020 elections, when the Hispanic community is expected to become the largest minority group of voting-age citizens, and we will vote in record numbers. Irene Corona, a 19-year-old Latina from Florida, is one of these voters: she is voting for the first time in 2020, and she’s not taking her right lightly. She knows she’s carrying not only her voice, but her parents’ and her community’s.

By Beatriz Paniego-Béjar, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

First-time voter Irene Corona shows proudly her “I Voted” sticker.

Irene, a former student at UnidosUS Affiliate Mexican American Council (MAC) in Homestead, Florida, is a first-generation United States citizen, and this week she casted her ballot, the first one of many more to come. Irene understands what an honor and a privilege it is to vote, and she takes it seriously: “I am not voting only for myself, but for our whole community. A lot of members of our community, unfortunately, do not have the right to vote, and if there’s anything I can do to help get the representation that our community needs, I’d be more than happy to do it.”

She clearly knows the issues that matter to her, and she’s ready to vote for those. Irene is a second-year health services administration student at Miami-Dade College, and affordable education is very important to her. She’s also voting for immigration reform, to fight for our planet against climate change, and to ensure everyone has access to health care because “if anything this pandemic has really brought to life all the flaws in our health care system, so there’s definitely change that needs to be made.”

This inspiring changemaker has already made her plan to vote. She is voting early because she’s taking her civic duty to heart: on this Election Day she’s also going to be a poll worker. A friend brought to her attention that there was a need for poll workers this year, and she wanted to be a part of that process as well.

MAKE YOUR PLAN TO VOTE

Soon after Irene registered to vote at her campus, she also made her plan to vote. More and more, Latinos are clearly becoming an important demographic for the outcome of the election, and we need to ensure we get ready and know how we are voting this year.

There are three ways in which you can cast your ballot, make your voice heard, and impact the results of these elections:

  1. Vote by mail.
  2. Vote safely early.
  3. Vote safely on Election Day.

If you’re voting by mail, visit adelanteunidos.com to check your state’s deadlines on when to request it, and follow these five easy steps to fill it out and send it when you receive it. También lo puede ver en español aquí.

If you decide to vote early, do it safely! Make sure you wear your face mask, practice physical distancing, try to vote alone or limit the number of non-voting family members joining you at the voting location, bring hand sanitizer, and go to the polls at less crowded hours. If possible, consider dropping off your mail-in ballot to avoid large groups of people.

If you prefer to vote on Election Day, do it safely too! Follow the same recommendations as if you were voting early, and be prepared to wait long hours, so take snacks and water, and comfortable shoes and a folding chair if you expect long lines.

Get ready, and make your plan to vote. Hear from our experts in this town hall in English, “Vote 2020: Get Ready, Get Set,” and this roundtable in Spanish, Eleva tu voz. Vota seguro,” and share them with your networks.

EARLY VOTING IS HAPPENING

Through UnidosUS’s LEAP (Latino Empowerment and Advocacy Program), we have engaged Latinos across the United States through our Affiliates, reminding our communities of the power of their voice.

One of these Affiliates is MAC, the organization that guided and helped Irene graduate high school and get into college. This star community-based organization, led by Eddie Garza, has scheduled visits with their clients to help eligible voters register online using MAC’s computers. While dealing with the pandemic since March, in June they were able to focus more efforts into our LEAP initiative, and they have registered 62 new voters.

In Texas, the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA), under the leadership of Joe Jimenez, has integrated voter registration into their Prevention and Counseling programs and they had registered 75 new voters by the registration deadline.

Both organizations are now focusing their work on Get-Out-The-Vote activities and encouraging clients to exercise their right to vote, and reminding them what they need to bring when they go to the polls:

https://www.facebook.com/AAMAInspire/photos/a.10150686322824993/10159059282259993/

As of October 20, 33.5 million Americans have casted their ballots nationwide and a record-breaking number of voters showed up to the polls on the first day of early voting in some states. If you are planning on voting early this year, you can visit this site to find the closest polling location to you. And remember to visit adelanteunidos.com to make your plan to vote and learn what you need to bring to the polls to stay safe.

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