Elena Pardo

As a person who grew up bi-nationally, in both the U.S. and Mexico, I have experienced the profound differences of living in a country where democracy still has a long way to go versus one where it is such a fundamental part of our lives it's often taken for granted, or not given much thought.

We stand at a very important time in our country’s history. It is a time when the choices we make, and our participation, will count more than ever. In 2016, a record number of Latinos will be eligible to vote, many of them young people and first time voters. They can determine the margin of victory in states like California. Our ability to build political power, both nationally and locally, has never been stronger.

I am proud to be joining with Voto Latino, a civic media organization, to engage this generation of emerging leaders at my concerts in California and throughout Hispanic Heritage Month of Action (HHMA), which launches September 15 and runs through October 15. Our partnership seeks to give these emerging leaders the tools they need to be agents of change this election year and in the future.

There are many ways to change our country. I have invited Voto Latino to register voters at my concerts to help make sure our community is represented at the ballot box in 2016 and beyond. They will be out Friday, August 12 and Saturday, August 13 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, California, and in other cities we'll be visiting as well.

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Those who won’t be at my concerts can use tools like VoterPal, an app that makes voter registration fun and easy. Download the app and scan your driver's license. It's that simple. Even more exciting is that you can register your friends and family too, because it is no longer enough to just register ourselves. You can participate in and improve our democracy every day just by using your smart phone. Now is the time for us all to join this call to action. We can’t afford to sit this election out.

The only way we continue to build on our power and create a country that reflects our values is if we all register and show up on November 8. We cannot shape this country for future generations until we exercise our right to vote and hold the leaders we elect accountable beyond the day we elect them.

I hope to see you all at my concerts at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles this week and that you all take this opportunity to register yourselves and your friends as well. Stay tuned for more from Voto Latino and from me throughout Hispanic Heritage Month of Action. HHMA will be a month long voter registration initiative to celebrate the pride in our culture and the power of our vote. Join me by registering to vote at www.votolatino.com or at my concerts. Nos Vemos!

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Lila Downs grew up both in Minnesota and Oaxaca, and studied classical voice and cultural anthropology at the University of Minnesota. Her music and vocal artistry have many influences and is as varied as the ancient cultures that serve as her inspiration. Lila’s compositions are often striking commentaries on social conditions, reflecting migration and the search for roots as a core human need.

Lila Downs is a Grammy Award winning American-Mexican singer-songwriter and actress