Latino voters make record impact at the polls

Latino voters make record impact at the polls

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by AMY COWMAN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 12 at 4:17 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For the first time in history, Latinos made up 10 percent of the vote, which is a big success for the Latin American Coalition who worked hard to get out the vote. Now they hope it will make an impact for generations to come.

Mary Espinosa and Selene Medina are both college freshman and both grew up in Charlotte, but only one got to vote for the first time on Tuesday.

"I had one vote but I was telling all my friends who can't vote I voted for them," said Espinosa.
 
Espinosa is a proud U.S. citizen and Hispanic voter who made up 10 percent of the total national electorate.  She, like many, have undocumented family members who could be deported any day so comprehensive immigration reform powered her voice at the poll.
 
“Living with not knowing, that causes a lot of fear in the community and it's important people realize that fear exists and it’s a reality not knowing whether parents are going to come home," said Espinosa.
 
She voted for Obama after his decision last June to support deferring deportation for students like Medina who grew up in the U.S. and want to get an education but don't have legal status.
 
"It makes me feel like I'm not part of a community in which I've been my whole life," said Medina.
 
Medina is one of the few lucky ones. As an honor student she got a scholarship to Johnson C. Smith University.  Otherwise she couldn't afford college, which is why she hopes Obama will take his efforts one step further
to support the Dream Act.
 
"I want to make sure my sister—who is a freshman in high school—I want to make sure she doesn't have to deal with the stuff I dealt with," said Medina.
 
For now she has to count on her peers using their voice.
 
"I used my vote for those who live in fear and are silenced every day," said Espinosa.
 
"It’s good for me to know there are people who will vote for me," said Medina.
 
Though she hopes to one day get to use her own voice to vote.
 
The Latin American Coalition says an estimated 800,000 teenage Latinos become eligible to vote each year with Immigration Reform and education at the top of their priorities.
 

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