Los Angeles activists help new citizens register to vote

With California’s midterm election a few months away, political activists are stepping up efforts to get more people registered to vote. One good place to do that is at a citizenship ceremony.

Thousands of immigrants filed into the Los Angeles Convention Center Thursday morning, took the oath of allegiance and headed out the door as new Americans.

From there, they could apply for U.S. passports and follow the lead of this real estate agent from Argentina:

“Well, I get to vote. That’s about it. That’s a good thing.”

About 200 naturalized citizens filled out voter registration forms under a tent set up by the grassroots political group Organizing for America-California. Its volunteers are Democrats. But Karen Rasmussen of L.A. says the group is careful not to push its political agenda.

“It’s definitely a first priority to get them registered and not to overwhelm them initially with becoming Democrat, " Rasmussen said. "But we definitely try and encourage them to support President Obama and vote for the Democratic ticket.”

It can be overwhelming as Republican and Democratic activists greet newly naturalized citizens. Parisian-born singer Yasmine Murphy chose to bypass the process at the convention center and register later. She says she’s looking forward to it.

“This is very important to me, yes," she said. "I’m very happy. Last time my husband voted, I was standing close to him and I was very happy I did, and I wished I could vote, but I could not because I was just a parent and resident. But this time I’m very happy I will be voting.”

That was the presidential election Murphy watched her husband, a Chicagoan, vote in. Aside from helping his wife get registered soon, Paul Murphy says the two will bone up on California’s upcoming election.

“Breaking it down like senators, congressmen, assemblymen, governors, those are areas that we need to probably ourselves focus on a little bit more and see who’s who. Meg Whitman’s got my attention because of her background, but I do need to dig a little bit more.”

While he’s doing that, Yasmine Murphy says she'll dig deeper into the background of Democratic gubernatorial contender Jerry Brown.

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