With the upcoming presidential and congressional election on November 3, 2020, it’s an ideal moment to reflect on past elections at Southern Methodist University. During the late 1960s, college and university students across the country and at SMU protested against the Vietnam War. At that time, anyone under 21 could not vote, and on campuses, you could often hear students chanting “old enough to fight, old enough to vote!”
Such protests and other efforts resulted in the 26th constitutional amendment and a law enacted by President Richard M. Nixon. On July 5, 1971, all 18- year olds could vote in all national, state, and local elections. The grandparents of today’s college students were not able to vote when they were eighteen. This amendment and law created a momentous change in US history!
Almost immediately, a national education program called Vote 72 was started—and a SMU chapter, announced in The Daily Campus, began. In October 1972, the group not only worked towards student awareness of candidates and their positions, but they also encouraged students to seek internships with senators or other congressman.
In 1990, Rock the Vote started in order to energize young people to vote. This program, heavily promoted by MTV, was popular at SMU. Around the same time, The Daily Campus created a “Top Ten Reasons to Vote.” The number one reason: “Everybody’s doing it – you want to be popular don’t you?” And really, who doesn’t?
Although there are local, state, and national elections every year, many people choose to vote only in presidential elections. If you are 18, you must be registered to vote before this year’s presidential election on November 3. The deadline for registration in Texas is October 5, and because Texas requires a mail-in registration, these forms are available at the Fondren Library, the Hamon Library, the Business Library, and the residence halls. Each state’s laws for registration and voting are different. SMU Libraries has created, Get ready to Vote 2020, a step-by-step guide to help with information about Texas and other states.
For those still reading, you show off your smarts by knowing this fun fact:
Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and Utah have never passed the 26th amendment. Nevertheless, because it is a national law, 18-year olds in all states can vote. You have no excuse. Now get going on registration and voting! It’s your right!
On Thursday September 17th, from 11am – 1pm, stop by the Voter Registration table in front of Fondren Library on the Dallas Lawn to get quick information on how to register and vote in the 2020 election.