My mother on the day she became a U.S. Citizen.
The first political conversation I remember having was in 1992 with my father. My class was having a mock election and I was unsure of who to vote for: the elephant or the donkey. Neither animal seemed attractive so I had no idea why we were voting for them. I did not know it at the time but despite reading the newspaper each morning and watching the news each evening my father did not have the right to vote. My mother, who answered my voting question by telling me to ask my father, did not have the right to vote either.
Thanks to Reagan they were, after decades of living in California (my father arrived at 17 and my mother at 22), legal residents, but it would be eight more years before they became citizens of the United States. Despite their immigration status or maybe because of it my parents instilled in their children a strong sense of civic duty.
Many times during this campaign I have knocked on a door, exchanged a few words with the constituent, and been told “I can’t vote, but I’ll tell my children.”
On this day, National Voter Registration Day, I think of these moments and circumstances and wonder why so many who are able to vote decide not to.
I vote because I know at some point my parents could not. I vote because I know that some of my students will not be able to once they turn 18. I vote because I believe in and support our democratic process.
If you are able to vote, I urge you to vote this election. Vote in honor of your family members who cannot. Vote because your voice matters. Vote because it is your right and privilege as a citizen of this great country.
Register to vote here.