My Vote is My Family’s Voice

By: Maya Ramirez

At Voto Latino, we’re working every day to ensure that young Latinos grow their civic and political power and make their voices heard during this year’s important election.

And with Hispanic Heritage Month of Action set to launch on September 15, we wanted to share the stories of first time voters, the stories of young Latinos who will be the difference in 2016.

This year, there will be 27.3 million Latinos eligible to vote, and 3.2 million of them are young Latinos who are turning 18 before Election Day! HHMA will be our month-long effort when we, and our hundreds of partners, make our biggest push to register voters ahead of registration deadlines.

Here’s the story of a young Latina from Nevada who recently turned 18 and will be voting for the first time this Novemeber.

That’s me! Surrounded by my family.

Name: Maya Ramirez

Age: 18

State: Nevada

Why are you voting in 2016?

My father first migrated from Mexico to California before my siblings or I were born, only going back to Mexico to return for my mother to cross as well. My dad worked endlessly to provide for his growing family, including his nine siblings. Both of my parents took up low-wage jobs, trying to make enough money to buy food but yet were hindered by the negative value placed on immigrants in American society.

Now that I’m old enough to reflect on the immense sacrifices my parents made so that I could a better life and a brighter future, I’m honored to take part in American democracy and recognize that the ability to vote is one of those opportunities my parents strived to give to me. By using my vote, I am using my voice and speaking for the people in my family, and millions of families across the country, who do not have that voice themselves.

What are the issues that matter most to you?

This election has been one full of controversial statements on issues that affect our community. Immigration, of course, has always been an issue that’s close to my heart due to my family’s history in the U.S. But having access to affordable healthcare, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and combatting the rise of police brutality against communities of color are other issues that matter the most to me.

What would you tell other young Latinos who think voting might not make a difference?

Even while having casual conversations, I often hear young people say things like, “Well my vote doesn’t matter anyways,” or “I’m not voting because I don’t care.”

While not having strong feelings towards a particular issue or subject is fine, the idea that your vote cannot decide an election or doesn’t matter seems unreasonable. Every person has the power to use their vote as their singular voice. Every vote shows support of a certain idea and every vote is a symbol of power. Without using the chance of being heard, your voice can be silenced. In these times when such strong, sometimes negative or prejudiced, opinions are perpetuated daily, it is important to realize that voting does make a difference and it’s the most important way young Latinos can show our full potential and decide the future of our country.

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