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First Time Voters Share Thoughts On Candidates, Worries Of Post-Election Unrest

More than 17 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election — and a good number of those people are casting their ballots for the very first time.

In El Paso, Texas, registered Democrat Gustavo Payan-Luna grew up on the Mexican side of the border. At age 43, he says he’s voting for the first time because of a shooting in August of 2019 that killed 23 people in the city.

The shooting left “many emotional scars” on his community, he says.

“That shooter was targeting Mexicans,” he says. “And one of the reasons that we know this happened is because Mexicans, immigrants, Hispanics are demonized, you know, with an intention to gain political power.”

Payan-Luna says he hopes the election process is transparent. Americans don’t have to agree on every issue, he says, but he believes Joe Biden will unify the country and better serve the majority of citizens.

Over New Prague, Minnesota, first-time voter Karly Hahn shares a different perspective. The 21-year-old senior at the University of St. Thomas says she’s excited to vote for President Trump.

Hahn says she wants to see Trump expand on what he did during his four years in office, including signing the USMCA deal, supporting law and order and proposing the Middle East peace deal with Israel, she says. She’s concerned about the protests that escalated in the state over the summer, she says.

“I also think that we have gotten into this habit of talking to the other side like they’re not humans,” she says. “But if we can’t really understand why we believe different things, then the only way to find common ground is to hit that point first, because we can never find common ground if we don’t understand why people believe what they believe.”

But in Richmond, Virginia, registered nurse Julie Benmosche has decided to vote for the first time to get Trump out. The 33-year-old independent says she’s never voted as a form of protest against supporting candidates who don’t represent her views.

Trump isn’t a leader and he’s not fit to serve as president, she says.

“If I can finally go in and fill in my ballot, I think anyone can,” she says. “And if you have to hold your nose, do it.”

Politicians need to think beyond catering to their supporters, she says. Even beyond the pandemic, Americans need accessible, affordable health care, says Benmosche, who has cancer.

“I think no matter who wins, there is going to be a very uncomfortable protest situation,” she says. “The seeds of doubt of whether this is free and fair have been sown, whether or not that’s the case.”


Marcelle Hutchins produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd MundtAllison Hagan adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Julie Benmosche (left), Gustavo Payan-Luna (center) and Karly Hahn (Courtesy)
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Julie Benmosche (left), Gustavo Payan-Luna (center) and Karly Hahn (Courtesy)