The lines may be long and voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy may be frustrated, but the polling centers will be uniquely special to first-time voters. Since the beginning of this year, AFSC’s Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, New Jersey has helped 30 immigrants become new Americans who will have their chance to vote today.
Alongside clients, AFSC’s Detention Project Coordinator Alix Nguefack voted for the first time in presidential elections today. She became a naturalized citizen in October 2011. “It was very emotional,” she said. “I know now that I belong here, and that I am part of something bigger.” She took her children with her to the voting station to show them the importance of having a voice – in this election and in others.
It will be a first presidential election for AFSC’s legal intern Aleksandra de Medeiros Vieira as well. “I feel empowered. After years of being green card holder, who was unable to vote, I finally feel like a true member of American society,” said the Rutgers law student who will graduate this spring. Ms. De Medeiros Vieira should know this fact well. The naturalization exam includes the question: Name one right only for United States citizens. One answer is voting in a federal election.