'I want to make some changes': New voters in Doña Ana County head to the polls

Miranda Cyr
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — For many voters, this election is one filled with uncertainty as the country remains divided. First-time voters on Tuesday expressed their hopes and anxieties while voting across Doña Ana County.

Jairo Luna, 28, took about six months to make a decision to vote and who he would vote for. Some of the issues that motivated him to vote include gun rights, which he supports, law enforcement, which he supports, and improved health care and internet access across the state.

As an internet service provider employee, Luna has seen firsthand the great need for internet access. He hopes there will be more growth and assistance in rural New Mexico, as well as more jobs in energy and technology services to support that growth.

BLOG:Live updates from Election Day, races and ballot measures in New Mexico

Luna said his opinions have changed over the years, as he now tries to focus less on mainstream media, and foster his own opinion of the presidential candidates.

Kiara Hernandez, 21, woke up this morning having forgotten that it was Election day until a friend texted to remind her to vote.

"I want to make some changes in our government," Hunter said. "I want the government to listen to what we want, the people. It's important to know how they're going to handle the (COVID-19) crisis."

Hunter Matthews Blanco, 18, and his mother Wanda Sue Matthews, 59, wait in line to vote. Hunter is voting for the first time today and hopes to see change in leadership.

Hunter Matthews Blanco, 18, voted for the first time on Tuesday with the thought in mind that he wanted to maintain his human rights. As a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, he sees clearly that he will be supporting Joe Biden for the office of the president.

ELECTION 2020:Doña Ana County poll volunteers break down key issues for Republicans, Democrats

Matthews Blanco also is concerned about affordable health care, climate change and the way the COVID-19 pandemic is handled.

He said he feels extremely nervous about the outcome of the election, and it has begun to affect his mental health.

"It's a lesser-of-two-evils situation," Matthews Blacno said. "It's really odd, this being my first time — when basically the literal apocalypse is happening."

Lizette Salazar, 30, voted with her sister on Tuesday. Although her sister, Christina, has voted before, this was Lizette's first time after observing "all the corruption in the world" and wanting to be part of a change.

"There's so much hate going on," Lizette said.

TURNOUT:Doña Ana County surpasses total 2016 turnout

Sisters Lizette Salazar, 30, left, and Christina Salazar, 32, are voting on Nov. 3, 2020. Lizette is voting for the first time today, believing a change needs to made in the U.S.

Lizette agreed with her sister, who said the main topics that were important to them include pro-immigration positions and the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes for some sense of unity after the election and less division.

"Regardless of who wins, I really hope for a better future, a change," Lizette said, "for my kids and for this country."

Jennifer Cortez, 20, said she felt intimidated at her polling location because the people voting were significantly older than she is.

"You don't really see a lot of young people voting, and I wish that would change," Cortez said. "I don't have a lot of confidence in myself to go up to somebody and be like, 'Hey, I'm sorry. Could you teach me how to vote?'"

RESULTS:New Mexico election results 2020: Real-time data on Doña Ana County races

After voting today, she felt like her vote really did count.

Miranda Cyr, a Report for America corps member, can be reached at mcyr@lcsun-news.com or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA