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A Boise Refugee And First-Time Voter Reminds Us To Be Grateful This Election Day

Frankie Barnhill
Boise State Public Radio

Here on Idaho Matters and Boise State Public Radio, we’ve been hearing from young people voting in their first general election; young people who were born in the U.S and were automatically eligible to vote once they came of age.

But what about the perspectives of new Americans? What is it like to vote in your new country during an election when so many Americans who were born here feel anxious about our democracy? 


Credit Haitham Yousef
Haitham Yousef (right) after voting for the first time in America on Nov. 3, 2020. The Syrian refugee became a U.S. citizen this fall.

Idaho is home to many refugees who have become citizens. On this important and anxious election day, Idaho Matters is sharing this story from a young man who is was a refugee from Syria who recently became a citizen. Haitham Yusef cast his ballot for the first time this morning in Boise.


Reminder: if you haven’t voted yet, you have until 8 p.m. Click here to find your polling location.


Thanks to Angie Smith with the New American Voters 2020 project.



"Hello, my name is Haitham Yousef, I'm 21-years-old and I live in Boise, Idaho.


I got my citizenship about a month ago, so I have decided to vote for the first time. I never had a chance to vote back in my home country, Syria, without getting hurt. That's what inspired me to participate, because I knew for sure that I won't get hurt because I have shared my opinion.


I voted about an hour ago and that made me feel alive. It also made me feel special. Even if it's only one person out of three hundred and thirty one million people in the U.S. it still matters to me. Trust me, every single body count[s]. I'm very grateful for being a U.S. citizen because we have rights and we are protected. So you should be grateful as well. The most issues I'm concerned about is our economy. I hope it stays strong like it has been.


I hope my vote will change to a better, happy and peaceful lives because that's what I ever wanted to live in peace. Peace to you all."

Do you have a first-time voter story, or know someone who does? We would love to hear your story. Click here to learn how to share it. 

Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters

Frankie Barnhill is the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast. She's always interested in hearing surprising and enlightening stories about life in the West. Have an idea for Idaho Matters? Drop her a line!