From Immigrant to Citizen: The Right to Vote

“Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote,” William E. Simon, former US Secretary of the Treasury

Today is an important day for my Pakistani family; it’s the first time we get to vote in a presidential election since becoming American Citizens three and a half years ago. Watching our lives change, because of policy and political changes, and without even having a tiny bit of influence on where our tax dollars went for the last thirteen years- has given this Election Day more meaning for us. We see voting as a civic sacrament, something that not everyone has as a right to practice and something that some people will not be able practice, because of simply being raised as undocumented youth in the U.S.

“Americans didn’t always have all these voting rights. Nonwhites didn’t join the ranks of voters until 1870 (with additional safeguards enacted in the 1960s) and women in 1920, each after the US Constitution was amended to include them.” – The Christian Science Monitor

The U.S. has a past of discrimination and marginalization that prevented people from voting, and as an immigrant now American citizen, I’ve always understood the struggle to obtain the right to vote that many overlook and take for granted. In fact, there are still American citizens today that won’t be able to vote, because of new voter ID laws marginalizing them or the lack of accessibility to get to a voting center or because they can’t afford to take the time off from work to wait in the two-hour lines.

The point is even today, getting to vote for many U.S. citizens is a struggle or a fight. Why do they do it? Because, they know it gives them a voice, it shows the elected officials that there are voting citizens keeping an eye on them, and it’s about being proud of adding your voice to more than a “200 year history of conducting peaceful elections” (whether they’re rigged is another issue and part of the fight).

If you have the access, the ability and the time off then #GoVote! Because, even today people are fighting to practice this civic sacrament and to have their voice heard.

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