"We Must Vote To Make Our Voices Heard"

Baldwin Park residents went to the polls on Nov. 6.

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For 73-year-old Maria Elena Zavala, a Baldwin Park resident who cast her vote yesterday at St. John the Baptist Church, participating in elections is not only a privilege, but a duty to fulfill.

"We must vote to make our voices heard," said Zavala, who has not missed an election since 1992, except for one time when she was sick.

"That's how they pay attention to us. Like right now, we need money for schools," she said in reference to her support for Proposition 30 , a measure that, if passed, would provide funding for public schools and universities.

Aware that two voices are stronger than one, Zavala also brought her granddaughter, Saphire Leich, to vote with her.

"If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have come to vote," said Leach outside the polling place at St. John the Baptist. "I wasn't going to do it, but she told me that every vote counts, and now mine will too," Leich added.

Like Zavala and Leich, thousands of Baldwin Park residents -mostly Latinos- went to the polls on Tuesday. Some were paying more attention to the presidential election than to local propositions, and others were making an effort to increase the historically low turnout this city has had in previous elections.

According to Mayor Manuel Lozano, there are more than 26,000 registered voters in Baldwin Park, but less than 4,500 people participated in the electoral process during the last election.

For that reason, Yannette Gonzalez came to vote early. "Many say that Latinos do not vote, but here I am giving my vote," Gonzalez said in Spanish. "And I do it because it is important to defend the rights that we have, by choosing the right person."

According to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder, it is estimated that about 3 million people could vote in the county at more than 4,600 polling places available.

Among those millions of Angeleno voters, there were some who were doing so for the first time. People like Eduardo Peñate, a resident from El Salvador who just became a U.S. citizen this year.

"Voting for the first time in this country is a huge emotion and a great responsibility," Peñate said. "I hope that Latinos turn out so that no matter who wins, decisions are not made that go against the interests of our community," he added.

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