By Janet Hernandez, Senior Civic Engagement Project Manager
“Voting is a family thing,” said Jessica Rodriguez, Education Outreach Manager with NCLR. “My family came to the United States in 1988 because they were looking for a better life, as many immigrants do, and so we found ourselves in an unknown world in Miami, Florida.” Now, 26 years later, Jessica’s family lives in different places across the United States, including Washington, DC, Florida, and Illinois.
When NCLR launched the Latinos Vote app, Jessica quickly shared it with her family via group phone chat. “My whole family was discussing the importance of the vote and getting registered to vote for the presidential election. Our vote counts and we have to be ready to elect people who will represent our issues,” she said.
During a WhatsApp group chat with family members in Miami, Chicago, and Washington, DC, Jessica asked, “Familia, are you registered to vote? It’s your right.”
Her sister replied, “Es muy importante que votemos.”
“It’s so easy, just download the NCLR app Latinos Vote.” Jessica sent a picture of the app to her family and at that point her grandma chatted back “¿Como lo hago? ¡Hágamelo, mija por favor!” Her mom asked if she could download it, too.
Downloading the app and registering is just the beginning of the process. To complete registration, you must print out your form and then mail it in. Once that’s done, you’re ready to vote!
Jessica remembers struggling as a family to understand the new culture and language in a new country, and how to navigate the system in general. Many of them are now citizens, have gone to college, and have integrated into American society. Jessica’s grandmother, 82, became a citizen recently, and she is now ready to register through the NCLR Latinos Vote app. When Jessica shared the app with her family, two of her cousins in Florida quickly downloaded it and registered to vote. She told them, “It’s really easy, even grandma Dora will register through the app.”
“My community grounds me,” Jessica said. “I have lived in the U.S. for 28 years; I have seen how some of my relatives get left out of conversations due to the language barrier. Communicating with teachers at school has been a challenge for some of them. Integrating into a new society can be difficult, even if you live in a Latino city like Miami.
“I decided to download the app because it was a call to action for me and my family. If there was ever a time to speak for ourselves, now is the time to make your voice heard with your vote; download the app now. I did,” said Jessica.