‘The whole process is kind of confusing’: First-time voters facing challenges


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — First-time voters are finding that filling out their ballots can be quite confusing and hope that there’s a bigger push to educate new voters on what they need to do when voting.

“I think the whole process is kind of confusing because they just throw you into it: you just register and they’re like ‘here, just fill out the ballot and know what to do,” said Alexandra Wylie, a first-time voter and student at New Mexico State University.

She said she found most of the voting information from her mom and by doing her own research, but when it came to filling out the ballot, she was left confused.

“The terminology was weird to me — I wish they would explain it to a first-time voter like me,” Wylie said about filling out the back of her absentee ballot.

Brianna Carmen, Voto Latino’s director of Organization and Partnerships, explained that most new voters don’t know where they can vote, when and what they need to bring to the polling station.

Voto Latino has registered more than 500,000 voters, with more than half of those in Texas.

Carmen said that according to a report, one in five voters was not registered for the 2016 election.

“We’re looking at this whole new mass of new voters who are excited about this election,” said Carmen.

Voto Latino is providing voters with information they put online and on their social media.

Carmen advises new voters to visit Voto Latino’s website, where they offer a voting planning tool, and other non-partisan websites such as Vote411, which provides information about candidates and other important material.

She encourages voters to fill out a sample ballot that they can bring with them to the polling station to make the process faster and easier.

“Double- or triple-check your sources,” warned Carmen, saying that there’s a lot of misinformation about voting being spread online, such as wrong polling stations, information claiming that people will get sick when voting or that they are ineligible to vote.

She said to find voting information only on trusted websites, not just social media.

Wylie said her only means of transportation is her bicycle, so she decided to vote with an absentee ballot. Despite the challenges, she was determined to have her voice heard.

“It’s hard to trust anything, but you have to do it. It doesn’t hurt to try and have your voice heard,” she said.

Voto Latino is providing voters with free rides to the voting centers by partnering up with Lyft.

To do so, text “LYFT” to 73179 to claim a free ride to the polling station and back, up to $25.

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