Latinx Heritage Month feature: Learning about the election with VCU student Adriana Pacheco
In the final months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, a team of College of Humanities and Sciences students, faculty and staff have developed a nonpartisan election resource website with information on how to register, a countdown until polls close in Virginia, expert, nonpartisan analysis from College of Humanities and Sciences faculty, and information about the presidential, vice presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and Richmond mayoral candidates. Additionally, video content explains topics such as how the Electoral College works and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
Adriana Pacheco, one of the student contributors to the project, emphasizes the need for accessibility in the voting experience for non-English speakers. As the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country today and 32 million eligible voters, the voting power of the Latinx community is considerable. However, it may come as a shock that Latinx individuals did not have full access to voting until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It wasn’t until 1975 when an extension of the Voting Rights Act ended discrimination against “language minorities,” and voting resources and ballots started to be translated into other languages, increasing accessibility for citizens who speak little to no English.
“I am working alongside Dr. Jason Arnold to ensure that there is relevant information to Spanish speakers as well and that the website adequately addresses issues that are important to the Latinx community. After doing both these parts, I will be helping Dr. Arnold develop those parts of the website. I strongly believe that voting is paramount to our democracy.”
Adriana explains that she is especially encouraged to participate in the project because of her background and experiences.
“Being the daughter of immigrants I have seen firsthand how this past election has indirectly impacted my direct and extended family who don’t hold American citizenship. I vote for all those who can’t. While it is easy for a lot of people to excuse not voting on the Electoral College, I do feel like my vote has an impact. Voting is a form of expression that evokes the change necessary for a better society. … It is important that members in the Latinx community and VCU students participate in the upcoming election because by not doing so one becomes complicit in an unjust system.”
“All in all, I urge my VCU peers who are unsure about voting or don’t plan on voting at all to go out and vote early, fill out their absentee ballots, or vote on November 3!”
Participation in democracy is more than casting a ballot at election time—the everyday ways you engage with your community and how and where you spend your time also have the ability to affect political change. Adriana explains that idea saying that, “One must remember that everything in some form is political. How we choose to spend our money, how we consume our media, where one’s employed and how you interact within your own community.”
Adriana’s work does not stop with her support of the College’s election website. She encourages every member of the VCU community to get educated and participate in this election season and beyond. “All in all, I urge my VCU peers who are unsure about voting or don’t plan on voting at all to go out and vote early, fill out their absentee ballots, or vote on November 3!”