First Time Voters
Presidential Election Night, 2016, Salem, MA
A friend, and local pub owner, texted me on the morning of this year's historic Election Day here in America. He was planning on inviting a few other friends of his to the pub that evening to celebrate their first time voting in a national election in America. He wondered if I could stop in an get a group photo of them together - which I did, though not pictured here. I couldn't let the opportunity pass without sitting each of them down for a portrait. We setup a small station in the pub, and I spent just a few minutes with each of them - in between pints and whiskeys, while we watched the results come in from across the country.
My friend, Kieran O'Neill, owner of the Olde Main Street Pub on Essex Street in downtown Salem, MA, became a US Citizen just two years ago, after immigrating to the US thirty years ago. He told me that the experience was more emotional than he anticipated. The setting of his polling station was on a farm in Peabody, MA, and upon walking into the barn where the voting stations were, he felt this overwhelming sense of what it seemed he was describing to me as pride.
The youngest person I photographed, Nick, is a natural born US Citizen - who's father immigrated from Ireland about twenty year's ago. Nick is studying, of all things, political science at Stonehill College. This is Nick's first time voting in a national election, having just reach the legal age to exercise his right. Nick's father, Dennis, told me that the family has lived both in the US and back in Ireland where's he's from, and his sons (he has a younger son, also, not pictured here) may apply for their dual citizenship as well.
Owner of another pub, nearby in Beverly, MA (Indo Pub - formerly Kitty O'Shea's), Steven Murphy, stopped in to join Kieran. Steven and Kieran recently learned that they both obtained citizenship at Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA on the same day, but did not know each other at the time.
Finally, Jimmy Moriarty, who immigrated over thirty years ago, became a US citizen recently, with his wife Breda.
Two years ago, this American presidential campaign became widely covered by news outlets, not just in the US, but around the world as well. To sit around a table with these men, and listen as they spoke freely and with tremendous knowledge of our political system, and American civics, I felt like everyone in America should have had the chance to sit with them on that night. While many of the country's motivations were guided by whichever political party they pledge themselves to, or by which ever candidate "said it like it is" or chose to "go higher," to me it sounded like these men were not only well informed, but rational and passionate - they knew what the stakes were this election year, and knew that America's next president won't only leave their mark on the next four years, but potentially the next 40, 50, or even 100 years.
Regardless of the outcome, these gentleman were proud to have earned their right to vote in their new country. And, I'm proud to call them my new countrymen.
#election2016 #firsttimevoters #salemma #immigrants #citizenship