Early voting bells rang sharply on Monday and people with both parties came out of their corners swinging. In Dallas County alone, early voting numbers have bubbled up to around 55,000 votes recorded – an increase of nearly 26,000 votes when compared to the last midterm in 2014. This strong reaction sparked from a clear catalyst: the contentious race between senatorial incumbent Ted Cruz and his youthful competitor, the liberal messiah Beto O’Rourke. O’Rourke has raised $61.8 million for his campaign without the aid of any political action committees, or PACs. This amount dwarfs Cruz’s fundraising efforts, which have amounted to $28.1 million. The blood-red lone star state is the last place one might expect to have a dark horse Democrat making a serious fight in the senatorial ring, but given the tumultuous political landscape that the United States is situated in, anything seems possible.
Naturally, early voting has become quite a point of interest. It is the first round of a long boxing match taking place across the country, and after Democrats lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump, voters have become much more sensitive to the fact that their vote might actually matter.
SMU has not been insulated from the crashing political waves of late – in fact, the school has been fully submerged in the briny surf. “Important conversations about local and national issues are happening across campus,” said Dr. Kenechukwu Mmeje, the Vice President for Student Affairs at SMU, in an email response.
“SMU co-hosted a historic event in September – the first Senate debate between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Debate-watching parties took place in the residential commons and Fondren Library… Earlier this week, Fox broadcast live from Doak Walker Plaza, and members of Republican and Democratic student organizations participated.”
SMU has served as a focal point for salient political discussion and debate – something that reflects well on the school and its values regarding community engagement and activism.
SMU is hosting a polling location in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, which will be open for early voting on the 29th and will stay open through the 31st. “It’s a convenient and exciting way for students to participate in the democratic process,” said Dr. Mmeje. Although this location is convenient for students, it will be available for use for any registered Dallas County voters. The polling station is expected to have serious student activity given the recent voter registration drive at Fondren Library, where nearly 200 SMU students registered to vote.