SAN ANTONIO – When I first moved to the United States and became a legal resident, one of the things that bothered me the most was not being able to vote.
My parents and I left Venezuela for the U.S. in 2010, when I was 14 years old. I was never able to vote there, because I was too young. But I grew up seeing how important participating in elections was to my parents and I couldn’t wait until I could do it, too.
My 18th birthday came around and all my friends were eligible to vote, but since I was only a legal resident, not yet a citizen, I was not. That’s when it really started to bother me that many people take their right to vote for granted and choose not to do it.
After going through the immigration process for approximately nine years, I finally became a U.S. citizen on June 13, 2019. You can hear more about my immigration experience here.
My first chance to vote came earlier this year during the Texas primary election. And you better believe I took advantage of the opportunity. I voted again during the runoff election in the summer.
I was excited both times, but voting in a general presidential election? That’s a whole other level of excitement.
I bugged my husband for weeks to make sure his registration was up to date. Then I started researching all the races.
I spent several hours looking through my sample ballot, which I found on the Bexar County website, and Googling every one of the candidates. I decided who I was voting for in each race and made a list, which I memorized.
Then, on Friday, my husband and I voted together.
The process was really easy. We did have to wait in line for about 30 minutes, but things moved pretty quickly.
After, I felt a sense of gratitude.
Coming from Venezuela, where the integrity of elections is always in question, I’m grateful to live in a country where I know the democratic process actually works. I’m grateful to know my vote is being counted, and making a difference.
From here on out, one thing is for sure: I will never take my right to vote for granted. You can find me at the polls during the next election, and the one after that, and all future ones for years to come.
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