VIDEO: “I never had the opportunity to vote back home”


This election year, seven individuals are learning more about what it means to do their civic duty, and they’re sharing their stories on video.

The Center for Asian and Pacific Islanders (CAPI) started a pilot program to provide training and education for individuals who are either new to the voting process or simply wish to become involved in their communities through civic engagement.

The program, which began back in September, is part of CAPI’s larger Voter Education Campaign, which provides resources like free translation and rides to polling places to increase voting participation in communities with typically low turnout.

“We need to have less about quantity, but more about quality,” said Sandy Ci Moua, who runs the program. “Because a lot of people that get to the polls … they don’t necessarily feel confident. They get there and they’re like, ‘Even if I do have a sample ballot, I don’t know who these candidates are.’”

The new program started off with seven members, who are provided with education in the voting process, as well as introduced to candidates and their platforms, Ci Moua said. But more importantly, the program members are taught to see themselves as potential community leaders and realize through civic engagement, they can make differences in their own neighborhoods.

Many of the program members have never voted before in their lives, she said, so getting them to think about what voting means to them is more important than just getting them out to vote.

We’ll be showing their stories every day until Nov. 4. See what voting means to Iqra Abdullahi, who couldn’t vote back home in Somalia. Her video is below.

Coverage of the 2014 elections is funded in part by a grant from The Minneapolis Foundation.