By Janet Hernandez, Senior Civic Engagement Project Manager, NCLR
Maya Correa turned 18 in May and can’t wait to vote in her first presidential election on November 8.
“I am so excited vote this year; it will be the first time I’ll be voting to elect a president” said Maya. She is one of about one million Latino citizens who turn 18 every year and become eligible to vote. In Idaho nearly 45 percent of the Latino population is under 19, according to the Census Bureau, showing the potential for the youth vote in the state.
“I registered to vote because I want to have a voice on what’s happening right now,” Maya said when asked what motivated her to register. “I know there are a lot of people who can’t. I want to vote because this is a valuable power you have been granted. I want to elect people who are thinking about issues that are important to me and my community such as immigration reform.”
As a senior in high school, Maya was the president of the Future Hispanic Leaders of America (FHLA), an organization committed to ensuring Latino youth succeed beyond high school. FHLA promotes civic engagement in 18 high schools across the Idaho, reaching nearly 600 Latino students. Maya has succeeded in graduating and is now is a freshman at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.
“I joined FHLA at Homedale High School because I saw that this group was addressing the needs of the students in the school; it was the only outlet to get support,” Maya said. “I felt like I connected and could help other students like me find opportunities to succeed, including how to become a voter. In Nampa, we need to give information to the community about how and where to vote. Idaho is rural, so people need to know where they need to vote ahead of time and how to get there.”
FHLA is working with NCLR Affiliates, Community Council of Idaho and Idaho Community Action Network, to participate in the NCLR High School Democracy Project National Week of Action on September 19–23. The student group will be using the curriculum to get high school students to register to vote and be ready for election day.
“I feel extremely lucky and fired up because I get the chance to vote this year! Once you vote, you feel more enthusiastic to get other people engaged in the democratic process,” said Maya. “If you are a young person I encourage you to use your talents and abilities to encourage others around you to register to vote and remember that even though you are young you are a powerful voice in our democracy. Download the Latinos Vote app and register to vote now!”