With the deadline for voter registration in Texas looming on October 5, registration is a priority for unregistered citizens. Many students and SMU organizations are encouraging their peers to get registered and vote.
First-year SMU student Griffin Vail presented a petition to President Turner requesting that student poll workers be excused from classes. Vail’s idea for the petition arose after he came across an article about the need for poll workers because so few would be returning for the 2020 election.
After discovering he’d have to miss four classes to volunteer, he came up with the petition to serve democracy without the consequences of missing classes. The petition has now been approved.
“I value both education and service equally, like many students at SMU, and wanted to provide everyone, including myself, the opportunity to make a real impact on this community, ” said Vail. “Our generation has never been given an opportunity to step up and prove ourselves and this is the perfect opportunity.”
Vail argues that young voters are critical to the country in order to create substantial change, stating that votes impact family, friends and community.
Christian Parker, chairman of Young Americans for Freedom at SMU, agrees that everyone eligible to vote should register to support their causes.
“It is important that an informed citizenry take place in our political process and vote to see their interests and causes forwarded,” said Parker. “Registering to vote is an indispensable part of that process.”
The push for voter registration is hugely beneficial to SMU students because of the resources available to aid them in the registration process. The Maguire Ethics Center and SMU Libraries also provide opportunities for students to register through tabling.
Candy Crespo, Associate Director of the Maguire Ethics Center, calls voting a big part of being a fully engaged citizen.
“At SMU we try and teach students to be global citizens, think globally, and act locally,” said Crespo. “By helping students register to vote we’re helping them have a voice in our current policies at the local and national level.”
Second-year Student Senator Jo Lew echoed the importance of students voting to share their voices.
“We have the power to make change and change begins with us exercising our right to vote and making our beliefs heard by the people who serve us,” said Lew. “We make our country better when we make our voices heard.”
Both the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas GOP have released websites allowing a potential voter to submit their information and later be sent a registration form and a prepaid envelope. With election day so close, their sites now include information for finding in-person locations to register. For states like Texas, the sites made the registration process that much easier, especially during a pandemic.
“Research shows that if you vote in the first few elections when you’re eligible you’re way more likely to become a lifelong voter,” said Alexandra Simon, Deputy Voter Expansion Director for the Texas Democratic Party. “That happens even more in a presidential year so this is an amazing opportunity in that sense too.”
With many resources available to help SMU students get registered, now more than ever students are being pushed to make the difference. Fourth-year Tower Scholar Marina Leventis discussed the importance of taking advantage of the privilege to vote.
“Students are particularly important when it comes to voting because our demographic has created new ideas and shares values that are new and different from other demographics,” said Leventis. “By voting, we can elect officials that better represent our beliefs, which will make our government more representative of our entire populace.”
The deadline to register to vote in Texas is October 5th. Registration forms can be dropped off at pop-up registration locations and your county registrar’s office. More information can be found both at the TDP’s site, RegisterTexas.com, or the GOP’s, TexasGOP.org.
“People fought and died for the right to vote not just overseas but on our own streets as well,” said SMU History Professor Jeffrey Engel. “I think college age students therefore should take this very seriously and once you [vote] a couple of times, you get in the habit and you’ll do it for the rest of your life.”