The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The power of voting discussed at lecture

A lecture entitled “Voting is Sexy!: Voting in the 21st Century” included discussion on the history of voting, the impact of technology on voting and of college students on elections.

The event was held Monday in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Sponsored by the Maguire Center for Ethics Design Team, the presentation was led by seniors Clayr Simnacher and Lauren Atkinson, and junior Ashley Bruckbauer.

According to Bruckbauer, the first election was held in Ancient Greece in 508 B.C. The election was restricted to male landowners and its purpose was to elect the person they wanted exiled for 10 years.

“Votes were written on broken pots, called ‘ostraka’ in Greek, and from this name comes our present word meaning to ostracize,” Bruckbauer said.

If any person received more than 6,000 votes, the person with the most votes would be exiled. Bruckbauer noted that few politicians today would survive this election.

In the U.S., Bruckbauer pointed out that there are four major landmarks in the history of voting: black suffrage, direct election of senators, women’s suffrage and the lowering of the voting age to 18.

“When America was founded, only white males over the age of 21 were allowed to vote,” she said.

African American males gained the right to vote after the Civil War, but Bruckbauer noted that many did not actually get to vote until much later.

“Numerous restrictions, such as the Jim Crow laws, kept many blacks from actually voting until the 1960s Voting Rights Act,” she said.

The popular-vote election of senators was established with the 17th amendment. Bruckbauer noted that although today senators are popularly elected, the president is still elected by the electoral college.

“An example is the 2000 election where Al Gore won the popular vote, but George W. Bush won the electoral vote,” she said.

Another important event, according to Bruckbauer, is the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920. She noted that Switzerland’s women did not get the right until the 1970s and Kuwaiti women first voted in 1990.

The voting age was lowered in 1971 to the age of 18. This change took place during a time when men were drafted to serve in the Vietnam War while they did not have the right to vote.

In discussing how voters act today, Atkinson pointed out that technology, more specifically social-networking Web sites, have impacted elections greatly.

“If all of the people on MySpace were a country, it would be the 11th largest country and have more registered people than Mexico,” she said.

Atkinson noted that Howard Dean was the first presidential candidate to take advantage of technology during his campaign. In 2004, he raised $50 million through the Internet and his campaign Web site.

According to Atkinson, all of the candidates except Rudy Guiliani have official campaign profiles on social networking sites such as Barack Obama’s campaign has even set up its own social network on his Web site, she said. Supporters of Obama can now log on and check for events in their area and donate.

Something new for the 2008 elections is the MySpace and MTV presidential dialogues, Atkinson said. Nearly all of the candidates have appeared or will appear on the show, which features questions from younger voters.

“We have now been given the tools and resources to find out information about the elections,” Atkinson said.

In 2006, 10.8 million college students voted in the election, according to Simnacher. The number was a 1.9 million increase from 2002.

“We [college students] are now considered to be the swing vote,” she said.

Simnacher urged students to get involved politically both locally and nationally by voting and volunteering. Students can register to vote at

“We want you to know that your vote does count,” she said.

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