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Kathy Willens, Associated Press
Hatoumata Tounkara, center, walks to a neighborhood park with her daughter Fatoumata Dembele, 11, left, husband Abdoulaye Dembele and their infant son Mohamed, in a stroller, in the Bronx near where they live on June 21, 2016, in New York. Tounkara, a Muslim who plans to vote in the upcoming November presidential election, has already decided which candidate she supports. She said she is excited to vote for the first time as a U.S. citizen. Thousands of former refugees and asylum seekers will vote in a U.S. election for the first time this November. Many have witnessed the consequences of autocratic rule and civil strife. They’ve spent years navigating the bureaucratic gauntlet needed to get to the U.S. and, eventually, to become a citizen.

NEW YORK — Thousands of former refugees and asylum-seekers will vote in a U.S. election for the first time this November.

Many have witnessed the consequences of autocratic rule and civil strife. They've spent years navigating the bureaucratic gauntlet needed to get to the U.S. and, eventually, to become a citizen.

And there are those who believe they hold a personal stake in this election, with immigration a central issue.

While most eligible refugees are excited and eager to participate in democracy, there are many hurdles to active involvement.

Bandana Rai — who fled Nepal during a 10-year civil war that ended in 2006 — says her appreciation of the vote is enhanced by what she went through to become a citizen.

Rai says: "You have to really want it."