By Colbi Edmonds
BU News Service
Local residents headed to East Boston High School Tuesday to cast ballots and ensure a safe voting environment for all residents at the polling station.
First-time voter Carolina Espinoza said she thought the registration process was simple, and voted on behalf her family members who do not have an opportunity to make it the polls.
“I like that I have the voice so … I can do that for them,” said Espinoza. “It felt good.”
Local resident Danielle Murphy was motivated to vote by women’s rights and racial equality.
Murphy voted for former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump. Seventy-nine- point-five percent of Suffolk County voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, according to Politico.
“I don’t want to live in a Trump era anymore,” Murphy said.
Murphy walked to the polls before going to work and said the experience was “perfect,” but acknowledged her privilege of having easy access to the polls.
“It’s never been an issue for me, but I do recognize that it is an issue for a lot of other disenfranchised communities, and that’s also why I’m out here voting today,” said Murphy.
Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE) is an organization that aims to increase voter access by developing leadership and civic engagement in the East Boston community. NUBE volunteers served as Spanish translators at the polls.
“We have a really large immigrant population,” said Amanda Jusino, a NUBE volunteer. “So I think immigration issues are always at the forefront. One of the reasons why we participate civically is because we really want to see that our elected leaders are accountable to the community.”
Jusino said civic engagement is an important way to push for the changes they want to see in their community. She said the anxiety, concern and confusion with mail-in ballots has been prevalent this election cycle, but additional measures have helped citizens vote.
“I think between the expanded early voting, mail-in ballots, drop off boxes, in addition to the traditional Election Day, those have been really helpful things,” Jusino said.
Other groups stood at the polling site to offer help and support for voters. Amira Al-Subaey, an immigrants’ rights organizer and volunteer for Lawyers for Civil Rights, monitored for intimidation, social distancing and provided aid for Spanish speakers. Hispanic residents account for 56.2% of East Boston’s population.
“My mission is to make sure that every eligible voter is able to successfully cast their ballot today, and that they can do so in a safe and accessible way,” Al-Subaey said.
Kirk Israel, a member of the Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians, came to the polls to offer support, but through music. He wanted to ensure there was no voter intimidation and give voters “musical energy.”
Israel said he had never played at an active poll, but he felt it was necessary to make music in the current political climate.
“I think this year is especially critical, as we’ve seen a lot of the damage that can be done to the country, in the system that we love, you know, with really bad leadership,” Israel said.
Israel said he thinks the community is doing the best it can to provide as many options as possible for voters.
“Voting is kind of funny thing. You just really have to be willing to be part of a larger movement,” Israel said. “Anything that can help push forward and make sure that the widest range possible of voices are heard and getting into the mix – that’s what we’re all about.”