It’s been a busy summer at TurboVote.  We have signed up over twenty-five new colleges with more coming aboard all the time.  Last week TurboVote sat down with the Chronicle of Higher Education to talk about why TurboVote started partnering with colleges to begin with and what it means for the future of voting on campus.

Our executive director, Seth Flaxman, took some time to explain the problem as he sees it.

“The current way you register to vote does not really make any sense,” says Mr. Flaxman, who received his degree in public policy in 2011. “It is from a different era. ” So last year, he started TurboVote. The Web-based service aims to partner with colleges to make voter registration easier for students. When users sign up on TurboVote.org, the site mails them a voter-registration form, entirely filled out, and a stamped envelope. The idea is to make registration as easy as renting DVD’s on Netflix, Mr. Flaxman says. “What we are trying to do is modernize voting for the way we live now.”

Even though we tend to pay a lot of attention to the student vote during presidential election years, The Chronicle of Higher education points out that the problem is really much bigger than that.

In the 2008 presidential election, 60 percent of college students turned out to vote, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, at Tufts University. But two years later, in the midterm election, only 27 percent of college students ages 18 to 24 voted, the center reported. More than half of the nonvoters in 2010 said they had been either away from home or too busy to vote.

We are optimistic though, TurboVote is rolling out to its service to colleges across the country and administrators are already starting to see success and think about how to bring TurboVote to as many people on campus as possible.

This year 20 colleges, including Columbia University, the University of Akron, and Simpson College, a small, United Methodist-affiliated institution in Iowa, have joined TurboVote, meaning they will pay for students to use it. Beyond voter-registration forms, users can also request applications for absentee ballots, as well as e-mail or text-message updates about election deadlines. As long as a user either attends a partner college or has paid about $1.60 for each form in advance, the service continues for all local, state, and national elections…

At the University of Florida, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service raised $20,000 from private donors to pay for its participation, says Shelby Taylor, a spokeswoman for the center. “Providing an application which streamlines and cuts through the bureaucratic red tape,” she says, “will be very helpful in getting our students to vote in this upcoming election.”

… The University of Florida advertises TurboVote on an electronic sign near its football stadium and links to the Web site on its information-technology page. The Graham center, which talks up TurboVote on Facebook and Twitter, plans to work with student groups to hold promotional events this fall. The service may be featured on the Jumbotron at football games.

Needless to say everyone at TurboVote is incredibly excited about all the success we are having this summer, but getting TurboVote on a campus Jumbotron is a particular point of pride.  For more info on TurboVote’s college push click through to the full article (Subscription required), or just get in contact with us.

Online Service Works With Colleges to Get Students Registered to Vote


For info about bringing TurboVote to your campus you can email sam@turbovote.org or call us at (646) 580-VOTE [8683].

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