Civil discourse may be missing this election season, but it’s not entirely gone. In Henderson County, the local League of Women Voters created a voter education video contest to inspire high school students. BPR’s Helen Chickering met up with the producer of the winning video - a first time voter with a compelling case for civil conversation and civic engagement.
“Hey there everybody, it’s a pleasure making this video and thanks for watching. Polarizing topics and issues are being debated..”
“This year our local league decided to further encourage youth voters and youth involvement in the civic process by holding student video contest.
Rachel Poller is the League’s president. “We invited all high school students to submit a video meeting some very specific and difficult criteria - encouraging youth voters, youth participation , nonpartisanship of course, diversity, equity and inclusion.”
“There are three major stops you need to take to vote in the U.S “
Bruno Saucedo’s video hits all those points while he walks around the track at East Henderson High School where he’s a senior. He’s holding a microphone with a fuzzy windscreen and looking directly into the camera as he dives into some voting basics
“You have to be a us citizen and you have to turn 18 before the election day on November 3rd.”
And he even gets a little personal.
“So, for kids like me, I turn 18 on October 31st. That's right, Halloween baby! And I can vote.”
The just over 2-minute clip is engaging and conversational, a last minute entry says Saucedo – and his first dip into political engagement.
“Traditionally I've been a little bit anti-politics, being as I grew up in a rather conflicted household” says Saucedo.
But he did have plenty of video experience under his belt and with a nudge from his girlfriend, this senior quickly put a script together and started shooting.
“Step two is find your polling location. Don't get lost on voting day election offices, assigned polling locations based on address.”
“Bruno’s video hit all the bells” says League President Rachel Poller who was also one of the judges. Poller says Saucedo’s compelling walk and talk stood out among the stiff competition.
“He provided a tremendous amount of information, it was very high quality, it was very engaging,” says Poller.
“I’m so very proud of Bruno” said East Henderson High School principal Carl Taylor, “Bruno is such awesome young man, well spoken and then the creative side comes out as well.”
“And this is the important part. Do your own research, make sure that you're voting for who you believe is going to best benefit your community.”
But it is Bruno Saucedo’s off-screen story that makes his on-screen performance even more of a standout. When asked to explain his earlier comment about growing up in a politically conflicted household – out tumbled the tale of his mother, a native of Mexico.
“Being a single mother she was very much trying to stay out of the spotlight, and she's of Hispanic background” says Saucedo. “And so growing up in that sort of light, I was very much of the opinion that politics are something I should not be involved in. I should stay out of the spotlight, perhaps keep my voice a little quiet - if you may.”
Though quiet in public, his mom was firm in her beliefs – says Saucedo - that everybody’s voice is worth hearing. Words that would strike hard the summer before his freshman year when his mother was deported – forced to leave the country with Bruno’s two younger brothers.
Details - he prefers to keep private, but he was quick to share how a family opened their home to Bruno and his older brother so they could stay in school. And off the bat, Bruno says he noticed something different in his new home.
“They are very much politically minded and they believe that their voices in the government are extremely important,” says Saucedo. “And so, transitioning from a household in which I should keep my voice down into a household in which my voice needs to be heard. It was a little bit jarring, but I feel like it was a change that was very necessary in my life at the point.”
A narrative Bruno carried with him through high school, but wouldn’t voice - until that nudge from his girlfriend prompted him to enter a video contest.
“With the 2021 election on our doorstep now more than ever is an important time to understand our civic responsibility to vote.
“As far as the actual presentation,” says Saucedo, “ You know, I just kind of went out there and uh, I said, what I believed.”
“And lastly, to all of my youth and minority voters out there, don't think your voice doesn't matter”
“What's bringing me to the polls is my family in Mexico,” says Saucedo. “I feel now that it's extremely important that our voices as citizens are heard in our government and that we are electing leaders that are going to benefit us as individuals. For me being a first generation American, I feel that it is my responsibility.
A message this award-winning student producer with a conflicted political background, is voicing loud and clear.
”Voting is a constitutional right, and it's your right. So, own it. And let's go make a difference because you and I, we can inspire change. So, let's get out there and let's vote!”
I’m Helen Chickering BPR News
You can see more of Bruno's video work at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiHgbHY7pA1o1wJEhgz_1gg