SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Columbian immigrant Benjamin Tamayo woke up Tuesday and asked someone in his apartment complex if they planned on voting today. The confused individual had no idea that it was Election Day and had no intention of hitting the poles after being questioned by Tamayo. This type of behavior doesn’t make sense to someone as patriotic as Tamayo.
“All I ever hear is people complaining about how they want change, but never do anything about it. If you want something you gotta elect somebody who is going to do the right things for you,” Tamayo said.
Tamayo was one of 13 voters at P.E.A.C.E Inc. Elementary School on Bassett Street in the Westcott neighborhood during their first three hours open. It was expected that turnout would be lower with it being an off-year election, but nobody could predict the positive spirit that Tamayo brought when he walked in the building.
Tamayo left Columbia for a better life in the States in 1989. He remembers voting for the first time after earning his U.S. Citizenship in 1992, and the immense pride when casting his ballot. That’s why Tamayo hasn’t missed an election since.
“My motivation to vote as a first-generation American is to have my voice heard. I think that it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t advocate for yourself and what you believe in. I’m not sure if it’s a worry to vote because they don’t do recognize the names on the ballot to make an informed decision… but they should use their right to vote,” Tamayo said.
Maybe Tamayo’s call to action will hit home for Syracuse voters not just in this election, but for years to come.