AUSTIN, Texas — This year's election has sparked a drive in a lot of us to let our voices be heard, including adults who never voted before.
Taking the iconic "I voted" photo was a first time experience for 36-year-old Jose Salinas and 37-year-old local rapper Jay Greene.
So, what took them so long?
"Willful ignorance ... I didn't care, didn't think it affected me," said Greene. "I thought this is an old person's thing."
Greene added, "I even hate saying it now."
Salinas had a similar take.
"I just didn't think my vote would make a difference in the election," said Salinas. "Even here in Texas, I mean, it's a very, very divided state."
Salinas voted early in Pflugerville, and Greene voted early in Round Rock. Both men said the 2020 November election was different in their eyes and voting early wasn't a question.
Between the pandemic and the movement against police brutality on Black people, Salinas and Greene said they couldn't sit back and not take control of their lives.
"We're so divided," said Salinas. "I see family members and friends and coworkers. Everybody's kind of divided and we need to come together and just make this country whole again."
"I think this election year is more about people's moral code," said Greene. "That's why I think it was important to me this time to do the talking at the ballot box."
Millions of other Americans feel the same way. So far, more than 25 million Americans have voted early. In the first five days of early voting, more than 183,700 people voted in-person in Travis County, which is almost 22,000 more people compared to the same period in the 2016 election.
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"You can't sit by and expect good things to happen," said Greene. "You've got to go out there and cause some good trouble, as John Lewis would say."
"Just go vote," said Salinas. "That's all it takes."
Both men said they plan on voting in not just the presidential election but all elections from here on out.
"Local elections, everything. If there's a ballot to be cast, then I'll be right there with it," said Greene.
Greene and Salinas hope their stories will encourage other eligible voters to do the same.
The last day of early voting is Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.
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