League volunteer registering a voter in Fairfax, VA

“Finally,” he said with a sigh and a smile. “Finally, I can answer ‘yes’ to Question #1.”

In Virginia, Question #1 on the voter registration form asks, “Are you a US citizen?” He is a newly naturalized citizen, and I had the privilege of helping him to register to vote for the first time. He was one of 25 individuals from 22 countries to become US citizens at the Multicultural Festival in Reston, Virginia.

As volunteers of the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area (VA) helped new citizens and others register to vote this past weekend, we also helped answer many of the common questions that come up about the voting process:

  • Do I need to re-register? Several voters that we helped on Saturday hadn’t realized that they needed to update their registration when moving within the same county or someplace new. Take a minute to update your voter registration record or remind the people in your life who may need to, including those who have moved, changed their name or party affiliation.  
     
  • Where do I go to vote? Many first-time voters aren’t sure where and when they can vote, and polling places can also change from year to year. and begin to plan when you’ll vote on Election Day. Invite your neighbors to come with you! Find your polling place.
     
  • What should I expect on Election Day? In Virginia, as well as some other states, new photo ID requirements are being implemented for the first time this November. Do you know if you’ll need an ID to vote? Can you vote early or absentee? Use VOTE411.org to find out what to expect in your community.

Watching the enthusiasm and excitement with which the newly naturalized citizens registered to vote and took to their newly-granted right to vote filled me with great emotion. I felt so fortunate to be an American. I felt so proud to be part of the League helping to fulfill our mission. I felt so lucky to have shared in a moment of this life changing day for these individuals.

Saturday’s experience was a great reminder to me – and the other volunteers with me, I’m sure – about how the League’s work matters. We empower people to fulfill one of their fundamental rights as Americans. And, that is worth our every effort, especially for those new citizens who get to finally answer “yes” to Question #1.