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New U.S. Citizens Share Experiences Of First-Time Voting

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now let's hear from some of you. We reached out to people who are voting for the first time in a U.S. presidential election.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And people from all over the country chimed in.

CECILE VIDICAN: I feel inclined to vote because it is one of the few ways I have to participate and be heard in this country.

GABRIELA ANDRADE: It's one of our rights and responsibilities as citizens of this country.

RUPERT PATTISSON: I need to believe in the promise of America as a country that leads by inclusiveness and social mobility.

CORNISH: That's Cecile Vidican, Gabriela Andrade and Rupert Pattisson.

MCEVERS: And here's Tennessee resident Camila Fyler. She remembers how seriously her parents took Election Day back in Colombia.

CAMILA FYLER: They used to take us to the voting polls with them and show us how it was and what it meant. And it made me realize that, now that I have this privilege to vote here in the United States - I was first in line to vote during early voting.

MCEVERS: Fyler says she's voting because she cares about the country's immigration policies.

CORNISH: That's something we heard repeatedly. Arizona resident Grecia Lima came here illegally from Mexico 13 years ago.

GRECIA LIMA: When I was an undocumented immigrant, I remember I would invite others to vote for me and to be my voice and to see it from my perspective. And now that I am a U.S. citizen, I have a responsibility. It's a personal choice - thinking of more than just me.

CORNISH: She became a U.S. citizen last year.

MCEVERS: So did Chantale Eid-Mekhayel, originally from Lebanon. She says she didn't feel like her vote counted there.

CHANTALE EID-MEKHAYEL: Lebanese have no say in the election in Lebanon. Whoever was going to get the position was going to get it regardless.

MCEVERS: She says she doesn't feel the same way here.

EID-MEKHAYEL: Oh - super excited that this is the first time that I get to vote in the U.S. Even though the candidates are not the best option, one thing that I know is that I will not waste my vote. And every voice should count.

MCEVERS: Mekhayel is making her voice count in Michigan.

CORNISH: Many immigrants come here hoping for a better life for their families. That's why Alex Vega moved here from Colombia. She says she and her husband are voting to set an example for their 10-year-old son.

ALEX VEGA: We are just trying to remind him that this is a country that opened the doors for mom and dad and that he's so blessed to be in a place where he can leave and he has freedom. And we need to give back.

MCEVERS: She says she has weighed all her options, made up her mind and voted early in North Carolina. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.