Editor’s Note: VoiceWaves #Vota blog posts feature diverse youth commentary and views on the upcoming elections.
This election makes me feel a little bit of everything, but not exactly how I expected to feel for my first time voting.
I was born in the U.S. but lived in Mexico for 15 years. I used to think that voting would never, ever make a change in society. But that has a lot to do with Mexico’s history.
I came back to the United States at age 17 in 2012. Just when I started getting into the groove of sunny California, Obama vs. Romney happened.
I didn’t vote. I wasn’t into politics and change as much as I am now. So, yes, I let four years of my life slide under the rug rather than contributing to the future of the country.
While I’m glad that things went OK during these past years, it’s the future that scares me.
Pardon my Latinx focus, but what else would I talk about if not my own community?
Life has given me some major reality calls! And college has opened up my eyes to so many things that I was oblivious to including issues in immigration, education and health care.
So, the future does scare me. Knowing that many of my loved ones’ lives will change depending on who wins the presidential elections makes me uneasy.
As a citizen, health care and education are easier for me to get. But I can’t help but think about those that struggle to even see a doctor, even though they’ve lived here longer than I have.
I also can’t help but think of those who have to jump through hoops to be admitted into schools because of their immigration status.
I’ve pictured my first time voting as something that would make me feel victorious, excited and safe. But I think Nov. 8 will make me feel anxious.
Nonetheless, I know that voting is a privilege that I don’t want to let go to waste again.
Voting cost so much. People gave their whole lives to fight for freedom, women’s suffrage and rights for people of color. Not voting seems like an insult.
Moreover, I want our tios y tias, abuelos y abuelas to live longer regardless of their immigration status and receive health care so that they don’t spend their lives in pain.
I want our little cousins and children to look ahead of them and be hopeful, not hopeless.
I want to encourage those who can vote to do so because many people would love to, but are not allowed to.
I want to break stereotypes and change the statistics of my Latino community.
I want to increase the number of voters so that Latinos are no longer a sleeping giant, but rather an unstoppable giant.
And I’m not hopeless because the numbers tell that Latinos are taking action and getting out to vote.
According to a 2016 Pew Research report by Jens Manuel Krogstad, the number of eligible Hispanic voters has increased by 4 million, accounting for 37 percent of the growth among all eligible voters since 2012.
Furthermore, as reported by Adrian Carrasquillo on Buzzfeed’s article “As Florida Early Voting Begins, 99% More Latinos Have Already Voted Than In 2012,” 133,000 Hispanics already casted their ballot in Florida.
The upcoming ballot propositions cover a variety of topics such as tax extension on the wealthy, juvenile crime proceedings, bilingual education, death penalty, legalization of marijuana and affordable housing.
Our vote on these will determine the help our communities get and that’s why it’s so important to take the time to vote.
I’ve noticed that people won’t react until a topic becomes personal.
How much more personal can this election and ballot propositions get when there’s already a school to prison pipeline, housing prices skyrocketing and stalled immigration reform promises that can stop mistreatment of people at detention centers?
Moreover, how much more personal can the election get when there’s so much hostility towards people of color?
Voting is not only important for me and my Latino community. It’s important for everybody in determining how the next four years will look.
Elizabeth Campos writes for Long Beach VoiceWaves, a project of New America Media.