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Politics & Elections
WSIU's News Team brings you previews and ongoing coverage of the 2015 Illinois Municipal Elections.00000179-2466-d250-a579-e46f49960001

First-Time Voter Finds the Process Easy

Julia Albarracin outside the McDonough County Courthouse after voting for the first time in a U.S. election.
Julia Albarracin outside the McDonough County Courthouse after voting for the first time in a U.S. election.

Julia Albarracin said she came to the United States in 1999 to attend graduate school at the University of Florida.  She now teaches political science at Western Illinois University.  Albarracin is also now an American citizen after being sworn in a few months ago, and she used her newfound status to cast her first vote in a U.S. election.

“I think it’s pretty easy.  Everybody should do it,” said Albarracin.

She said she registered to vote about a month ago.  And she took advantage of early voting to cast her ballot on October 10 at the McDonough County Courthouse in Macomb. 

Follow along as Julia heads to the courthouse and casts her first vote as a U.S. citizen

“I am excited more than nervous.  Maybe a little bit of both,” Albarracin said as she left her house for the short walk to the courthouse on that cool and overcast morning.  She was decked out in red, white and blue -- a red coat, white blouse, and blue jeans – plus a baseball style cap embroidered with an American flag and the number 76.

Albarracin said she learned about candidates through the media, what she’s read online, and by attending the League of Women Voters forum in Macomb (she is a member of the League).

Albarracin said voting is mandatory in Argentina, where she grew up.  She would not like to see the same requirement imposed in the U.S., though she wishes more Americans would take the time to be involved.

“It’s really appalling sometimes to see how many people waste this opportunity to have a say in government,” she said.  “If you’re going to live (someplace), you might as well enjoy all the benefits and also the responsibilities that come with that. I would much rather be an active participant in this democracy than live here and watch other people make decisions for me.”

Voter turnout nationally for the 2014 mid-term elections was just 36.4% and it was just 41% for the 2010 mid-terms.

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