106-year-old new voter

106-year-old new voter

Wednesday I witnessed 106-year-old Ignacia Garibay de Moya request an absentee ballot to vote for the first time in this election.  She became a citizen just months ago on July 19th, 2010.  When asked why she wanted to vote, she said, “I’m a citizen now.  My children are all citizens.  That’s what citizens do.”

Here in the U.S. we must all do our part by voting.  It’s the way to ensure we regular folks have a say in the decisions that affect not only our lives, but also the lives of people all over the world.  Our policies touch every person on Earth, yet most have no voice in creating those policies.  That is why your responsibility to vote is of even greater importance – you are voting for those who can not.

Here is the link to Ignacia’s story in Hoy, entitled Nunca es demasiado tarde, which means, It’s never too late.  The translation is below.  Please get out and vote today!

Jonit Bookheim and Erendira Rendon (right), of the “One Nation, One Dream” campaign, helped Ignacia Garibay de Moya to request an absentee ballot.  (Leticia Espinosa, Diario Hoy / October 27, 2010)

She doesn’t hear nor see very well, but for Ignacia Garibay de Moya, born 106 years ago in Guadalajara, Mexico, it isn’t too hard to express her happiness to vote for the first time as a citizen of the United States in the election next Tuesday.

Wednesday, at her home in the Pilsen neighborhood, organizers from the Get Out the Vote campaign, “One Nation, One Dream,” registered her to vote by mail.

Her son, Miguel Moya, doesn’t want to make her uncomfortable bringing her to their polling place, the Rudy Lozano Library.  He said he prefers to help her in the process from the comfort of her recliner.

“It would be very difficult to explain the ballot and the candidates in public, you have to speak very loud, she would be very uncomfortable, it’s better to vote by mail,” explained her daughter-in-law Elvia Moya.

Garibay immigrated to the United States with her husband and their three children in 1966.  In July, during a special naturalization ceremony, she received her certificate of naturalization and was accompanied by Elvira Ramirez, 72, and Miguel, 76, her two surviving children, and by the majority of her 25 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 14 great-great grandchildren.

With the certificate of citizenship and her registration as a voter in Illinois, Garibay received the flag – certified – that waved the day of her naturalization on the Capitol of the United States; the only thing that she lacked was the opportunity to cast her vote, said her relatives.

“I feel happy, I will vote for the first time because I am a citizen like any other citizen,” she commented with lucidity and security from her chair, where she passes the better part of the day.

She will vote for candidates that favor immigration reform, she said.  At the moment of her naturalization she said that she felt protected because “now everyone in my family are citizens, now we don’t have any danger of being separated,” she said making reference to the immigration laws and deportations.

“She is an example for many that have the power to vote and don’t use it,” commented Jose Artemio Arreola, Political Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).

Through “One Nation, One Dream,” ICIRR has encouraged the registration of new voters during the last four months in Chicago and suburbs, registering more than 10,000 new voters.  And the day of the election they are ready to mobilize some 130,000 voters to the polls.

According to the Chicago Board of Elections, like Garibay, voters don’t need to give any reason or excuse to participate in Early Voting or to vote absentee by mail.  Both options end Thursday, October 28th.