Multigenerational families in Michigan are voting together, some for the first time. Photos provided by Katie Jimmerson, Jessica Jeffrey, and Lana Escamilla
Multigenerational families in Michigan are voting together, some for the first time.

Multigenerational voters in Michigan are strengthening their bonds at the ballot box this election.

MICHIGAN—Katie Jimmerson, 43, of Plymouth, grew up going to soup kitchens with her family on Thanksgiving. Seeing them help out those who needed a leg up in life.

“That kind of thing—it just has always been the way [of] our family; you help people that need help,” Jimmerson said. 

She also recalls growing up watching her parents and grandparents go to the polls and vote—based on who could most help the country stand up stronger, not for those with self-centered interests.

I remember my parents voting, and I remember my grandparents voting, and my grandparents talking about it. When I got to be [of] voting age I was really excited to do it,” Jimmerson said. “I couldn’t wait to go and vote. I have voted in every election since I became of age.”

SEE ALSO: Michigan Woman Votes To Protect Michigan’s Natural Resources 

Jimmerson said that whatever “side of the coin” a person selects for their president, it should be centered around who is the most empathetic when it comes to candidates who show concern over issues including healthcare, race, and beyond.

“Imagine yourself on the other side of that coin: what do you want and how do you want to be treated? That’s why I’m voting for [Joe] Biden,” she said.

JESSICA JIMMERSON

Jimmerson’s mother, Plymouth resident Debra Jimmerson, is a helper by nature. She’s previously worked at jobs taking care of others. Even as a semi-retired vocalist when she and her daughter sang at senior facilities to put a smile on people’s faces, it was done out of empathy toward others.

“I think Katie has grown up with that from both her dad and I—with always helping people. That is what makes us happy, and it’s a natural thing for us to vote for Biden because he stands for all the things we miss. We look out for each other and take care of each other. All of this fighting is not getting us anywhere.”

A Daughter Influences Her Parents to Vote

Howell resident Jessica Jeffrey, 37, isn’t overexaggerating when she describes how she feels about this upcoming election.

“It means everything,” she said. “I think we learned a hard lesson in the last election that every vote matters. Every voter matters.”

Jeffrey, who voted Democrat [in every election since she was 18], has encouraged her parents to vote through the years, too—but it never stuck until this year, when they decided to vote for the first time.

“I think once my parents started seeing the way the current president mishandled important issues like COVID-19, the economy, and the environment they really started paying attention to what Democrats had to say about those things,” Jeffrey said. “When Biden speaks it lines up with how they feel, and he gives us all hope. The decision to vote Democratic was an easy one for all of us.”

Jessica Jeffrey

Jeffrey’s parents, Kim Jeffrey and Paul Jeffrey, both 63, of Howell, have a very close knit family with tons of relatives nearby in a 20-mile radius of their community.

Paul Jeffrey said that he never voted before because he felt that the country “would still run” without his vote. But this year that’s all changing. 

And while he says the couple is not “Republican or Democrat,” they are voting for Biden this year.

READ ALSO: These Michiganders See Themselves—and a Hopeful Future—When They See Kamala Harris 

“The president doesn’t care about the environment,” Kim Jeffrey said. “[Trump] doesn’t care about science, he doesn’t care about energy—he doesn’t care about protecting the earth for my grandchildren and my children. He doesn’t stand for the things that I think are important.”

When asked how they think others feel about voting for the first time, too, they said those voters probably have a sense of “hopefulness” and “excitement.”

“That other people will do what we’re doing [by voting] to get these things fixed,” she added.

Mother and Son March on Together

Kalamazoo County resident Lana Escamilla takes pride in the deep roots her relatives have planted in the community. Whether it was her grandfather, the deacon of a Catholic church—who was instrumental in starting the bilingual program in Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Hispanic American Council—or her grandmother who stood her ground as a youth when it came to her right to vote: It’s all in the family to create a positive impact.

And Escamilla continues the legacy as she hopes to create a positive impact with her three older children by voting this year and leading the way.

“It’s definitely important to our family,” Escamilla said of voting. “On my mother’s side my grandmother was featured in paper when she turned 21 at midnight and fought to be able to vote.”

She added that on her father’s side, her grandfather said voting is “how you make changes” and he wanted more powers and more resources available for Hispanic individuals.

“I try to instill that in my children,” she said. “My children always impress me with their knowledge of what’s going on in the world and what’s going on in the current political situation.”

Escamilla’s 22-year-old son Ethan voted for the first time in the 2016 election, and plans to vote this year for presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

Ethan said is impressed with the duo’s campaign policies and societal platform regarding rights for minorities. 

“My grandfather, he fought for Latino rights and for everyone in Kalamazoo,” Ethan said. “Voting is the least I can do to fulfill [my duty] as an American citizen. I believe in their track record for equality for everyone.” 

DON’T FORGET: Op-Ed: My Michigan Family Was Divided at the Polls—Until President Trump