By Stephen Fashoro
The upcoming presidential election will be the first opportunity to vote for many students, including Southern Methodist University’s Wilson Russ, and SMU is lining up opportunities for these new voters to learn more about the process. But Russ is going to learn the election system from a very personal angle — by volunteering to serve as a poll worker on Nov. 3.
“I’m very excited to vote for the first time and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to serve as a poll worker during this turbulent 2020 year,” said Russ, a sophomore studying political science, public policy and economics. He answered a call for young volunteers to help fill the gaps left by older Americans who traditionally staff polling places but are somewhat scarce this year because they are at higher risk for serious illness due to COVID-19.
“As someone with a fervent passion for politics, I am more than happy to stand in for those that may be at risk,” Russ said. “I believe it’s important for people to get out and vote, especially in elections such as this year’s, where a great deal appears to be at stake on both sides of the aisle.”
The deadline for registering to vote in Texas is Monday, Oct. 5. SMU will host a polling location at Moody Coliseum on election day with free parking available for the community in Moody and Binkley parking centers. Please see more details in the Nov. 3 calendar item that follows.
Early voting will be available from Tuesday, Oct. 13 through Friday, Oct. 30. The two locations closest to campus are at University Park United Methodist Church at 4024 Caruth Blvd. (1.7 miles from campus) and Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 7611 Park Lane (2.47 miles from campus). Find all the early voting locations and the hours they are open at this Dallas County site.
The team at SMU Libraries has put together a step-by-step guide for students, which includes absentee voting options for students who are residents of other states. Library staff, the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement and SMU Athletics have been active in planning events to encourage students to register and vote in the 2020 U.S. general election. These events extend through the Friday after the election:
Debate Watch 2020: First Presidential Debate
Tuesday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., online event. Ben Voth, associate professor of communication studies and director of debate and speech programs at SMU, will host an online Zoom watch party and lead discussion of the presidential debate. Register for this event at libcal.smu.edu.
Voter Registration Drive
Monday, Oct. 5, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Visit the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement site for more information on this event.
Debate Watch 2020: Vice Presidential Debate
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., online event. Voth will host an online Zoom watch party and lead discussion of the vice presidential debate. Register at libcal.smu.edu.
Vote on Campus
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Moody Coliseum Lobby. While located on the SMU campus, the polling place will be open to all Dallas County voters. Free parking will be available in nearby Moody and Binkley Parking Centers and special ADA parking will be available on Binkley Boulevard, adjacent to the coliseum.
After the Election
Friday, Nov. 6, 3 p.m. to 4/4:30 p.m., online event. More details to come regarding this panel event. Visit smu.campuslabs.com, the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement site, for more information.