“Please Don't Forget to Vote”: 102-Year-Old Lincoln Heights Woman to Cast First Ballot

"I may be old, but I'm one more voice," she says

When the polls open in California Tuesday, one woman will be waking up and casting her national election vote for the first time in her 102 years of life.

Guadalupe Portillo lives in Lincoln Heights now, but came from Mexico in the 1980s. In all that time, she said she never got the chance to become a United States citizen. As a legal resident, she said she continued to work through retirement and last year, finally, took the oath of citizenship.

"Please don't forget to vote," she said, one day before she casts her first national election ballot. She voted in the state primaries over the summer and said that moment gave her a feeling like no other.

"I was so emotional," she said. "It was a feeling I had never felt before."

As she reads reports about the apathy facing many Latinos with the lack of federal immigration reform from Washington, Portillo said she wants to be seen as an example.

"It's never too late," she said. "Here I am at my age still fighting, and you won't even vote?"

In the 2012 presidential election, the Latino vote was heralded for sweeping President Barack Obama into his second term. But experts say too often, Latinos aren't as passionate about voting as Portillo.

"Latinos who are naturalized citizens are more likely to vote that U-S born Latinos," said UCLA lecturer and political analyst Octavio Pescador. "The apathy, the sense of not belonging to the polity for those who are U.S. born is because of many factors; the culture, society, the language."

Pescador said Latinos know their power, but added that too many aren't using it.

"It's a sleeping giant, and it's awakening in some places," he said. "But when it should count and when it should matter, in terms of participation and boots on the ground, sometimes they're not there."

For Portillo, she said she hopes to see immigration reform in her lifetime.

"That's why I'm voting," she said. "I may be old, but I'm one more voice."

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