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Friday, June 2, 2017

League of Women Voters of Maine assisted new citizens to register to vote at the Windham Veterans Center by Peg Balano


The League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME) has been honored over the last four years, to attend Naturalization Ceremonies throughout the state, handing out information to our newest citizens about voting in Maine. We are also there to register them to vote if they have time after the ceremony. Each ceremony is different. Some are held in judicial courtrooms, some in elementary schools. The ceremony on Friday, May 26 at the Windham Veterans Center was special in its location and recognition of military personnel. 

On this day, there were 28 new American citizens, and we were able to register half of them to vote. One of the most poignant parts of the ceremony for me is when each candidate is asked to stand when their country of origin is called. They then all remain standing with right hand raised, and repeat in unison, their pledge to become American Citizens. I am always amazed by the number of countries represented at each event, and the range of experiences and cultures the new citizens bring to our communities. On this day, our new citizens were from 22 different countries: Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ghana, Guatemala, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malta, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Somalia, Sudan, United Kingdom and Vietnam.
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In the words of Tiffany Greco, one of our league volunteers that day, “Volunteering with the League of Women Voters affords me the invaluable opportunity to attend Naturalization Ceremonies and register new citizens to vote. Today's quaint ceremony at the Windham Veteran's Center was full of all the best stuff of this country. The community welcomed 28 new citizens from 22 countries. It was beautiful and incredibly moving. The room could barely contain all of the joy, love, and pride. A family member of a new citizen offered cupcakes to us all. It was a good morning of people being kind and welcoming to all.”  

To learn more about the League of Women Voters of Maine, visit: www.lwvme.org.  The bottom of that page also provides links to read about our work and volunteer opportunities.  We are also found at: www.facebook.com/LWVME/.

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