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The Road to My First Vote: Finding My Voice as a First-Generation Immigrant

Why I’m Embracing Civic Engagement as a First-time Voter

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From not being able to vote for a majority of my life, going to a poll and casting my ballot, feels like a foreign concept. Part of the 8 million youth who are now old enough to vote in 2024, this new right had felt distant growing up. In my younger years, I hadn’t given it much thought - as a first-generation immigrant, politics or the act of voting was never a dinner table discussion. I recall my father would vote, but we never talked about why or discussed its importance.

It wasn't until I noticed the inequities that existed around me that I realized the potential my voice could have on the ballot. Growing up in New York City, the skewed wealth distribution in neighborhoods has been an issue I recognized. I went to a high school that was next to a multi-lane highway, surrounded by gas stations and car repair shops, and I saw the effects of city planning on the lives of residents. High-income neighborhoods having more greenery, parks, or better access to transit compared to their low-income counterparts, not only affects quality of life– it also affects health, causing higher temperatures, and worse air quality.

Seeing the inequitable investments into neighborhoods, while many politicians touted laws and reforms as ways to boost support for their campaigns rather than making a difference, showed me the importance of fighting for change. This is where my journey to vote began."

Adarsha Kc

I also think about the issue of climate change, and while I know I can do my part to reduce my carbon footprint, it’s more important for politicians and the government to step up. Most experts agree that governments, not just individuals or businesses, play a significant role in fighting against climate change. So, investments in public transportation, especially for a greener and more equitable future are imperative. Successful ballot measures have been passed to extend funding for public transportation – proving our voice has power. In Kansas City, Missouri, an initiative was passed to continue funding for public buses, and in Boulder County, Colorado funding was secured to support broader access to transit. This all shows us the importance of policy change and how there is more at stake during elections beyond just who is running at the top of the ticket.

Inspired to use my voice to change these issues, I registered online through my state’s DMV, but you can also register in person, via mail, or in some states the same day as your election at your local polling location. Registering online is perhaps the fastest and most convenient option for those states that support it. Here at DoSomething.org, we have an easy-to-use online voter registration tool powered by TurboVote. I signed up and now I get text updates to stay up to date on election deadlines and early voting.

I also wanted to do more than just register and cast my ballot. I wanted to learn what causes candidates are devoted to, or who to voice support for, so I can back issues that are important to me. There are a plethora of resources I have been using, from content creators to podcasts, TikTok, and more. All of these have made me feel empowered to go into my local polling location for the first time and make a meaningful choice.

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Like Adarsha you can make your voice heard with a vote, but first you gotta get registered. Luckily, we got you!

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