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Minority Voters Vote for First Time

Posted at: 11/05/2012 10:54 PM
Updated at: 11/05/2012 10:55 PM
By: Dietrich Nissen

(ABC 6 News) -- And just before the election, hundreds of minority voters came out to vote for the first time. For immigrants, the language barrier may be the hardest part.

Voting can be a hassle for any first time voter especially if English isn't your first language.

"I think everybody should be out to vote. This is a must," said voter Jamal Omer.

As Somali American, Omer voted for the second time in his life, but noticed an issue at Olmsted County's polling site Monday morning.

"I came in and I voted and i saw there was a lot of people that needed help...there was a lot of people that needed help with interpreting but there was no linguist." said Omer.

So, for the next five hours, he decided he'd volunteer as their translator.

"A lot of people are, this is their first time actually and they don't even know how the form looks like and what to do with it. So i mean yeah it's great, it's a good feeling," said Omer.

And while Omer helps those voters who actually get to the polls. There are some, like Abdi Mohamud, who wouldn't have made it, unless they'd been encouraged to.

"I got some mail but mostly my family and friends told me to do it," said Mohamed.

"We certainly would encourage everybody to vote and exercise their right to vote," said Mark Krupski, of the Olmsted County Election Office.

As part of staying impartial, Olmsted County's voting officials say there isn't a local program to encourage minorities to vote, but they'd be open to suggestions.

"We do rely somewhat on the parties to do that and I think they do a good job at that," said Krupski.

"Go out and vote," said Mohamud.

But for immigrants like Mohamud and Omer, the importance of voting is something they've quickly picked up on.

"It affects your life the vote. You have to choose. You cannot just wait after the election and say oh shoot, why I didn't vote?" Said Omer.

There are several groups trying to encourage minorities to vote. They include Centro Campesino, Our Vote Our Future, Protect My Vote, League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote, and many, many others.