José Sanchez voting for the first time on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

José Sanchez voting for the first time on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Young first-time voters on what issues are important to them

Did you vote today?

new youth voting poll says that 56.6 percent of Latino youth intend to vote this election. Here’s what a few first-time voters had to say about what this election means to them.

MARIA VARGAS, age 20, student at Miami Dade College, Miami, FL

Is this the first presidential election you get to vote in? This is my first Presidential election.

Have you decided who you’re going to vote for? If so, who and why? Until this moment, there are other problems still not covered that are of my concern. Not only mine, but that of many others. They both agree that education is the foundation for a better society and better United States, yet none of them have actually mentioned an innovating idea different from what we already have such as, loans, Pell grants, etc…Considering this perspective, you can see that the regular group of students my age stand in the middle of both parties, making it difficult to make a decision because both candidates are too attached to their parties and policies without analyzing the advantages and good ideas the other party may have.

Do your parents vote? If so, what’s their party affiliation? My mother lives in Colombia. She does not vote here. My father is an Independent like me.

Young first time voters on what issues are important to them josevoted22 people NBC Latino News

Jose Sanchez says he waited in line for 4 hours and 45 minutes for his first vote. November 6, 2012 in Dumfries, VA. (Photo Jose Sanchez)

JOSÉ SALMERON SANCHEZ, age 30, Stand-up comedian and collections officer for a financial institution, Woodbridge, VA

What is your place of origin? El Salvador

Why are you voting for the first time this election? I’m voting because I have been waiting for the past 22 years 11 months and 6 days for this day to come. I became a citizen this year, and it’s my right as a citizen to make my vote count on days like this.

Why is this election important to you? This election is specially important to me, because it’s taken me and my family 22 years to get to this moment. Some people take being a citizen, or even voting, for granted. Everything this country stands for, and everything I have been able to accomplish in my life in this country, I am truly honored to be an American. I feel even more privileged that I get a voice during this tight election.

Which issues are most important to you? Every issue is important in this debate. Immigration, jobs, health care, women’s rights, etc. No issue is too small. It’s our country, and every issue covered only makes us a stronger country.

Young first time voters on what issues are important to them cathyleeortegavoter people NBC Latino News

First-time voter Catherine Lee Ortega on November 6, 2012.

CATHERINE LEE ORTEGA, age 19, student at Florida International University, Miami, FL

What is your place of origin? Puerto Rico

Why are you voting for the first time this election? Just turned 19.

Why is this election important to you? It’s important because where we are right now we need a good President. I think both candidates offer things that are good for certain people, but as a woman voter, I think it’s important that the President has what’s right for me.

Which issues are most important to you? I think education is the most important, because without that we’re not going to have people leading this country the way it should be.

I was really excited when I saw the opportunity of what I could vote “yes” or “no” to. I saw the power in my hands. I saw some things about the veteran’s property tax, things that don’t affect me, but things I see other people go through – and to be able to help them out is important.

Is voting important to your friends too, and are they all voting? Yes! Voting is extremely important to my friends, and it’s all about spreading the word to make an educated vote. It’s all that I have been reading these past couple of weeks on Facebook and other social media sites. I’m surprised that the young people in my generation are feeling so empowered and excited to vote!

Victoria Moll contributed to this report.

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