As soon as she became a U.S. citizen, Guadalupe Portillo felt that it was her duty to vote in an election. And on Tuesday, the 102-year-old voted for the first time in a national election. What's your excuse for not voting, again?
Portillo, who moved to California from Mexico in the 1980s, became a U.S. citizen last year. She recognized and took advantage of a privilege that many take for granted — voting. She voted in the California state primaries over the summer, and she said that the effect was visceral.
I was so emotional. It was a feeling I had never felt before.
According to Pew Research, the number of Latinos registered to vote is lagging behind other groups. Although 2010 showed record-breaking numbers turning out for the midterm elections at 6.6 million, that represents only 31.2 percent of eligible Latino voters. In 2010, 44 percent of eligible black voters and 48.6 percent of eligible white voters made it to the polls.
After reading reports about Latinos' voting apathy caused by a lack of immigration reform, which affects 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., Portillo wanted to be an ambassador for change. Portillo told NBC that she hopes she sees immigration reform in her lifetime.
It's never too late. Here I am at my age still fighting, and you won't even vote?
And the general dip in voting isn't contained to one group in particular. Historically, midterm turnouts are lower than the much more glamorous presidential election. In 2010, for example, only 37 percent of the population voted in the midterm elections, compared to 54 percent in the 2012 presidential elections.
So. You feeling lazy today? Feeling stressed at work and looking forward to noting else but cocktail hour? Is there maybe bad weather that keeping you from the polls? Let me ask you a few questions:
- Are you under the age of 18?
- Are you in prison or on parole or probation?
- Are you not a legal citizen of the United States?
- Are you not registered to vote?
If you answered "no" to all of those questions — GO VOTE, DAMMIT. A woman who has lived for over a century managed to make it a priority to get to the voting booth because she understands that civic duty is a right that you are granted as an American citizen. I imagine that the majority of you are a bit more spry that Portillo, yeah? OK, great, now get off yer butts and get out there.
Images: Screenshot/NBC (2)