By Sarah Palmer, LWVME Summer Intern
As a student studying political systems, I’m very interested in voting and ways to encourage citizens to participate in our democracy. So, this summer, I’m working as an intern for the League of Women Voters of Maine. My first official task was right in line with my interests: I joined other volunteers at a naturalization ceremony at Gorham Middle School and helped 30 new U.S. citizens register to vote.
Because this was my first time attending a naturalization ceremony, I did not know what to expect. I took a seat in the crowded gym, directly near where approximately 60 people were about to become U.S. citizens, surrounded by their friends and family. The enthusiastic students and faculty were welcoming to all the visitors. And the student chorus and band added to the festivities. As the ceremony commenced, I wondered about the various reasons why these individuals decided to relocate to the U.S. and become permanent residents. For some, it might be to pursue an education or reunite with family members while others might be fleeing some form of persecution. I also thought about the long – and maybe difficult – journeys that brought them to this point. Whatever path they took to get here, when it was time to take the oath of allegiance they all shared a common bond: they were all taking the same oath and they would all finally be U.S. citizens.
After the ceremony finished, the other League members and I rushed to the lobby to prepare the voter registration table. People trickled out of the gym and we began to help many of America’s newest citizens register to vote. We also handed out copies of the LWVME’s new brochure, ‘Making Your Vote Count’. What an amazing experience. I thoroughly recommend attending a naturalization ceremony if you ever have the chance. The same goes for helping someone register to vote. It was a thrill to think that I played a hand in increasing citizen participation in politics.
For information about League voter registration events or to volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Palmer is a junior at Wheaton College, pursuing a double major in political science and women & gender studies.