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Meet Some of America's First-Time Voters

VOA Talks to First-Time Voters
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VOA Talks to First-Time Voters

VOA Talks to First-Time Voters
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Every four years, young Americans and naturalized citizens are able to vote for the first time for a president. This year, more than 10 million people have become eligible to vote for their first time.

These new voters are diverse in age, background and political opinions. They will be a big part of what the Pew Research Center has called the most “diverse electorate in U.S. history.”

A majority of newly eligible voters are between the ages of 18 and 29. The voting age in the United States is 18. But researchers say young people are the least likely group to vote on Election Day.

Naturalized American citizens will also have a chance to cast their votes for the first time this November. Many of them say they care about issues such as economic fairness and educational opportunity.

Amanda Lugg is one of those first-time voters. She is a naturalized English and Ugandan-American citizen.

“The disparity in this country between the haves and the have-nots has just grown wider and wider, and with that breeds, breeds so much animosity and fear and results in something like we’re seeing in, in the U.K. right now.”

Jace Laquerre was the youngest delegate at this year’s Republican Party convention. He turned 18 in August. He says he hopes the party will listen to the opinions of young voters.

“A lot of younger people are more liberty-oriented, a little more socially liberal than the older Republicans, and I think that's what’s costing us elections in the end, and so, you know, young Republicans are here to say this is what we think and hopefully if the older Republicans will listen we can help win the youth vote in the future and win some elections.”

Aya Elamroussi is an Egyptian-American student and a first-time voter. She says many young Americans do not understand how much freedom they have. That includes the freedom to vote.

“Voting is the basic act of a democratic country. Most of us in America, if you were to compare the lives here to the ones in Egypt, we live a comfortable life. We, at age 16, you, you are able to go out there and have a job and pretty much make your own money. Over there, that’s not something that happens.”

More new voters support Democratic and Independent candidates than Republicans. But some new voters say they want Donald Trump to become president, including Christian Martinez.

“Everything other than his radical statements, everything, I believe that he’s very well integrated when it comes to making a strong foundation with the, into the economy. The economy is something very fragile, but yet again it could revolve around giving us free health care, free education. If our economy is weak, we can’t do anything.”

Elamroussi says she is frightened by the possibility that Trump could become president.

“The idea is when the rhetoric that he says becomes normalized. When it can cause violence, when it can turn debate, peaceful debate, into physical violence. That’s where the problem comes in.”

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA Correspondent Ramon Taylor reported this story from New York. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the report for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

diverse – adj. made up of people or things that are different from each other

background – n. the experiences, knowledge, education, etc., in a person's past

electorate – n. the people who can vote in an election (usually singular)

bigotry – n. bigoted (having or showing a strong and unfair dislike of other people, ideas, etc.) acts or beliefs

disparity – n. a noticeable and often unfair difference between people or things

haves and the have-nots – expression/n. people who have a lot of money and possessions; wealthy people (usually used in the phrase “the haves and the have-nots”)

breed – v. to cause or lead to (something)

animosity – n. a strong feeling of dislike or hatred

oriented – adj. interested in a particular thing, activity, etc.

radical – adj. very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary

fragile – adj. not strong

revolve around – phrasal verb to have (someone or something) as a main subject or interest

rhetoric – n. language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable

normalize – v. usual or acceptable