Act of voting is more than just checking a box

Jacky Guerrero

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The author of this article is an AB540 student. Due to legal reasons, the Sundial has refrained from publishing the student’s last name.

Attending a university and traveling to different states around the country doesn’t make me any different from others. Studying hard and working towards a bachelor’s degree is a success to celebrate. At first sight I am just as equal to any other person my age.

The difference appears when people ask me ‘Have you voted yet?’ or ‘When are you sending your absentee ballot?’ and my answer is, ‘I’m not a citizen yet.’ However, what is worse than not being a citizen ‘yet’ is that I am not even a legal resident of this country.

I am 25 years old and I have never been able to vote in my life. When I was a child, I wanted to turn 18 so I could go and vote for the next president of Mexico, my native country. Living in a world of fantasy, I never thought I would be migrating to the United States at a young age. I never thought I would be part of the so-called and sometimes hated 12 million ‘illegal’ immigrants. I did not know I would be fighting for my freedom in a country that does not belong to me, but that I do belong to.

After living here over half of my life, this nation turned from being my second home to my only home. Attending school here, celebrating countless special occasions and achieving success here makes me want to give back to this country by being part of the workforce. However, that’s impossible for now. Not having a legal status hinders me of legally working, legally driving and legally living here. It hinders me from voting for the next U.S. president.

Not having a voice and not having many rights in this country has made me understand the importance of voting. I see how changes can be made if the masses’ voices are heard. It’s not just about carrying the sticker that says ‘I voted,’ or running to a polling place and marking any line without reading the context.

It’s more than that. It’s to feel that this government can hear your voice, the satisfaction that you have after seeing yourself as part of the change. It’s the confidence that you carry knowing that the government works accordingly to the people’s voice. It’s the silent and influential vote that over 12 million undocumented immigrants would like to have. It’s a pleasure, a blessing and a joy.

I wish I could spend 10 minutes or one hour of my time just to cast my vote. It may sound dull, but voting is the voice of those who care for the success of this country.

Voting is a function that, up to now, I have not been able to participate in. I have never seen a ballot card in my life. I have never stepped in a real polling place. The closest that I have ever gotten to vote in an election is at school.

However, that does not make me a less person than others. It does not discourage me from supporting my friends and family to go and vote. Instead, it makes me want to educate myself more, so I can go and talk to those who do not understand the propositions and speak about each candidate and their proposals.

Everybody has different opinions about the candidates and their campaigns. I think that’s great because it exemplifies the diverse country we are living in. No matter what the final choice is, no matter what the time frame of the day is, what’s important is that all of those who are able to vote go ahead and do it. After all, they are voting for their civil and human rights. As Gandhi said it, ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’