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From Family History To Ballot Fights: What Drew You To Politics?

An audience, mostly women, listen behind President Barack Obama in Oct. 2012 as he speaks about the choice facing women in the election during a campaign event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Susan Walsh
An audience, mostly women, listen behind President Barack Obama in Oct. 2012 as he speaks about the choice facing women in the election during a campaign event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

As part of our "She Votes" series about women and politics in this mid-term election year, we posted a question on Instagram and Twitter.

"What or who first got you interested in politics? Share your memories and show us the person, thing, or event that made you pay attention or become active, using the hashtag #shevotes."

For some it was a war, for others it was a campaign or inspiring politician. And for Endi Silva, that politician was her grandmother Maxine Silva. Silva served two terms on the board of the El Paso Independent School District Board in the 1990s, after spending her early years registering voters and fighting for a high school to be built in her community.

"Later, having to take care of me didn't stop her from being active and she often brought me to political and community meetings with her," writes the younger Silva. "I am so incredibly grateful for her insight."

Maxine Silva was 97 years old when she passed away last fall, but her granddaughter says her influence lives on.

"I am currently 33, and a policy analyst for the State of Texas living in Austin with hopes of running for office someday," says Silva. "Just as she did, I also register voters in hopes of increasing minority voices in Texas."

Here at NPR, we've gotten pictures of bumper stickers, people decked out in campaign t-shirts going door to door for candidates, a photo of a fondly-remembered high school civics teacher. One woman wrote down the date she turned 18 and posted it. That was the day she earned the right to vote.

For Jennifer Belsito, a real political motivator was a 2012 referendum in Minnesota, where she lives, that would have required in-person voters to provide valid government-issued photographic identification. The referendum was defeated.

Many people cited their parents for getting them engaged in the political process at a young age, taking them into the voting booth or telling them a particular politician's name was a "dirty word." Sara Ortiz posted a picture of her father, Isidro Ortiz, a professor of political science in the Chicano Studies department at San Diego State University.

"My dad never forced his opinions on us, instead he quietly showed us what justice means for the underserved, why injustice to some is injustice to all, and why it is so important for people to do right by their neighbor," she writes.

We still want to hear from you. Just post a photo to Instagram or Twitter and tag it #shevotes. We'll put some of our favorites up here at the end of the week.

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Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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