WORTHINGTON — Three Worthington 18-year-olds will vote for the first time in the 2020 election, and they invite everyone who is eligible to exercise their right to vote.
Loddy Thepmontry, Beatriz Chonay and Betty Garcia Herrera have spent months preparing.
Garcia Herrera said she has been doing a lot of reading about candidates and their policy positions. Thepmontry has watched the local and national debates. Chonay talks about politics with her family at home.
An important first step for each new voter was to register.
"It was really easy, simple and quick," Thepmontry recalled.
After registering themselves to vote, the youths volunteered with Unidos We Win to help other eligible voters in Nobles County get registered.
A lot of people didn't realize how easy voter registration would be, Garcia Herrera said.
For others, Chonay added, the biggest obstacle was indifference.
"Some people would say, 'I don't care about politics,'" she explained. When she got that response, she would help people understand that their voice matters and that voting is one way they can have a say in their community.
"It felt very rewarding," she said.
"I started feeling good about myself, like I was making a big difference," Thepmontry agreed.
In these last days before the election, the Unidos volunteers are now phone banking to follow up with county residents and remind them to vote.
With Election Day just around the corner, the teens are excited to finally cast their votes for the candidates they support.
"I feel good knowing that I can make a difference now," Thepmontry said.
"I finally get a say in future leaders who can fight for my morals and my rights," Chonay said. "That's pretty big and exciting."
"Since we're 18 now," Garcia Herrera added, "we can make a change instead of just posting on social media about what we would like to change."
Some of the most important ways these first-time voters want to contribute are not just in Washington or St. Paul, but close to home.
"I've never ever heard anyone tell me how big local elections are, too," Chonay said. "A local vote in our community is just as big as the vote for president."
Local elections impact everyday life, she noted.
Garcia Herrera pointed out that seeing people she knows on the ballot for local seats empowers her to use her own voice.
"It's pretty cool to see them grow and make a change in our community," she said.
For those on the fence about whether or not to vote, Garcia Herrera, Chonay and Thepmontry have some advice.
"Just get out there and do it," Thepmontry said, "because one vote can make a huge difference. You're not only voting for yourself, but also for other people who can't vote."
"It's your right as a citizen to do it," Chonay added.
She shared that her parents are immigrants and come from a country where the people don't have the right to vote. Hearing her parents' stories helps Chonay appreciate how special it is to be an American and motivates her to exercise her right to vote.
For Garcia Herrera, it's important to vote because "there are a lot of things that go into making our community a better and safer place."
To register to vote, visit your polling place on Election Day or, prior to Nov. 3, go to the Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer's office on the second floor of the Nobles County Government Center, 315 10th St., Worthington.