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New U.S. Citizens Share Experiences Of First-Time Voting

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now let's hear from some of you. We reached out to people who are voting for the first time in a U.S. presidential election.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And people from all over the country chimed in.

CECILE VIDICAN: I feel inclined to vote because it is one of the few ways I have to participate and be heard in this country.

GABRIELA ANDRADE: It's one of our rights and responsibilities as citizens of this country.

RUPERT PATTISSON: I need to believe in the promise of America as a country that leads by inclusiveness and social mobility.

CORNISH: That's Cecile Vidican, Gabriela Andrade and Rupert Pattisson.

MCEVERS: And here's Tennessee resident Camila Fyler. She remembers how seriously her parents took Election Day back in Colombia.

CAMILA FYLER: They used to take us to the voting polls with them and show us how it was and what it meant. And it made me realize that, now that I have this privilege to vote here in the United States - I was first in line to vote during early voting.

MCEVERS: Fyler says she's voting because she cares about the country's immigration policies.

CORNISH: That's something we heard repeatedly. Arizona resident Grecia Lima came here illegally from Mexico 13 years ago.

GRECIA LIMA: When I was an undocumented immigrant, I remember I would invite others to vote for me and to be my voice and to see it from my perspective. And now that I am a U.S. citizen, I have a responsibility. It's a personal choice - thinking of more than just me.

CORNISH: She became a U.S. citizen last year.

MCEVERS: So did Chantale Eid-Mekhayel, originally from Lebanon. She says she didn't feel like her vote counted there.

CHANTALE EID-MEKHAYEL: Lebanese have no say in the election in Lebanon. Whoever was going to get the position was going to get it regardless.

MCEVERS: She says she doesn't feel the same way here.

EID-MEKHAYEL: Oh - super excited that this is the first time that I get to vote in the U.S. Even though the candidates are not the best option, one thing that I know is that I will not waste my vote. And every voice should count.

MCEVERS: Mekhayel is making her voice count in Michigan.

CORNISH: Many immigrants come here hoping for a better life for their families. That's why Alex Vega moved here from Colombia. She says she and her husband are voting to set an example for their 10-year-old son.

ALEX VEGA: We are just trying to remind him that this is a country that opened the doors for mom and dad and that he's so blessed to be in a place where he can leave and he has freedom. And we need to give back.

MCEVERS: She says she has weighed all her options, made up her mind and voted early in North Carolina. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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