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One voted for Trump, the other for Biden. But this mother and daughter are closer than ever

Sonia Murillo, 53, right, helps her 86-year-old mother Graciela Murillo vote for the first time.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Graciela Murillo was watching the news Tuesday on Telemundo — just as she does every morning — when she made an announcement: She wanted to go vote.

“Damé una pelota para votarla,” Murillo, 86, told her daughter Sonia, 53, confusing the Spanish word for “ballot,” which is “boleta,” with “ball.” “Give me a ball to vote! Yo quiero Donald Trump.”

So after breakfast and lunch — coffee, buttery bread and a sandwich for Graciela, scrambled eggs for Sonia — the mother-daughter duo drove down the street from their Boyle Heights home to the Wabash Recreation Center to vote for the first time together.

Sonia Murillo, right, puts on a "I Voted" sticker as her mother Graciela waits to leave after they voted in Boyle Heights.
Sonia Murillo, right, puts on a “I Voted” sticker as her mother Graciela Murillo waits to leave the Boyle Heights polling site after voting for the first time ever.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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But Sonia, a part-time cafeteria worker for the Los Angeles Unified School District, had no intention to cast her vote for Trump. She cast her ballot for Joe Biden.

“I wasn’t going to vote, but she motivated me,” Sonia said matter-of-factly. She hadn’t voted before this election because she didn’t know how to. “I don’t know much about politicians and voting, Democrats and Republicans.” What she does know is that she wants Sen. Kamala Harris to be the first female vice president. “That’s the only thing I know.”

Asked why she voted for Trump, Graciela said: “Es el que sale mucho en la televisión.” He’s the guy who appears on TV a lot. And she finds the Republican president very handsome.

“I don’t think a thing” about the fact that her daughter voted for Biden, said Graciela in Spanish. “That’s her choice. If she likes that man, then she can have him,” she giggled.

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As for Sonia, only one thing mattered to her.

“I was just so grateful that my mom wanted to vote because she’s never voted before,” she said in Spanglish. “It was a pleasure and I didn’t care who she voted for,” adding that her mother has a photo of a former president, Barack Obama, in the living room. She also liked Bill Clinton and the Kennedy men. “Those are the ones she remembers,” said Sonia of her mother, who has Alzheimer’s.

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Graciela was born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico, and came to the United States when she was 21 with her soon-to-be husband Samuel Murillo. Sonia is an L.A. native — born and raised in East L.A. But the two women, despite voting red and blue, have a lot in common: They both had their first child at 25 and are widows. Samuel died five years ago on Graciela’s birthday, and Sonia’s husband of nearly 20 years died two months ago from gangrene complications.

A photo of President Obama inside Graciela and Sonia Murillo's home.
(Sonia Murillo )

Ever since, the two women have grown closer. They’re inseparable. “Hacemos todo juntas, me and my mom.” They do everything together. And come next election, they plan to go back to the voting polls.

“Now I know what to do and I’m looking forward to voting again with my mom,” Sonia said. “In four years, we’re going to do it again,” she told her mother. “We’re going to keep going.”


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