Your Voting Rights

Photo of voting rights march.

One of three Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches in 1965. The first march ended “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, when state and local police used night sticks to halt the marchers.

Your right to vote is precious

Nearly all Western Michigan University students, who are U.S. citizens, are eligible to vote in this year’s election. That has not always been true. Fifty years ago, only about one-third of WMU students were eligible to vote, and 100 years ago, almost none were.

  • After a century of struggle, organizing and marching, women earned the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, in 1920.
  • African-Americans and other minorities were systematically excluded from voting in large parts of the country until passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
  • Citizens under age 21 were not eligible to vote until 1971, with the ratification of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, lowering the voting age to 18.

Your right to vote is precious. Generations of Americans have labored long, and some have died, to secure the voting rights we enjoy today. I join President Montgomery and other leaders of the University, and the Western Student Association and Graduate Student Advisory Committee in urging you to exercise your right and responsibility as a citizen.

Register to vote; study the candidates and issues carefully—be an informed voter; and on Election Day, go to the polls and vote.

Your future and the future of the country are in the hands of the people we elect.

Dr. Diane K. Anderson
Vice President for Student Affairs
Western Michigan University