HWS students are collaborating with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) to increase political involvement on campus in particular “that most fundamental right of our democracy: voting!” says Anna Dorman’14, a member of HWS Votes, who is working on campus this summer. “That is why we are bringing TurboVote to campus just in time for the 2012 presidential elections.”
“This is a really great way to bring voting to youth populations across the country and particularly on our own campus” says Dorman. “This is one of the most important times in our history to have youth participation in elections and so innovative ways to make voting appeal to our generation are vital.”
The United States is No. 138 in the world at getting its citizens to turn out to vote which TurboVote co-founders Seth Flaxman and Kathryn Peters saw as a huge problem. The two co-founded TurboVote as graduate students at Harvard University as a way to bring elections to young voters and the idea has soared. Both Flaxman and Peters were named to Forbes list of “30 under 30” in law and policy; TurboVote has been highlighted in major news sources such as MSNBC and the Miami Herald; the e-friendly service is being used at universities across the country including University of Miami, University of Florida, and University of Michigan.
TurboVote is an e-service provided by Democracy Works, Inc. which strives to make the voting process easily accessible in order to increase voter turnout and civic awareness. Students can access TurboVote either online, or on an app through a smartphone. Once a student is registered, TurboVote sends them e-mails and text messages related to voter registration, deadlines, and reminders to ensure they don’t miss important deadlines. This is particularly important on college campuses because many students have to register for absentee ballots which can be complicated and time consuming unless properly explained.
CCESL Director Katie Flowers explains that TurboVote is part of a multipronged approach on campus to get students involved and educated about the coming election. “The goal is to get voter registration up about 25 percent from previous years,” says Flowers, “Hopefully we will have about 1,000 students registered to vote in November.”
This year, HWS Votes will be led by Olivia Lowenberg ’15 and David Luna ’14, who participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University last spring. The group will help students register through TurboVote, provide transportation to polls for those voting locally, and work to increase awareness about the issues at stake in the election.
In the photo above, Anna Dorman (center) talks with CCESL Director Katie Flowers and CCESL Assistant Director Jeremy Wattles in Trinity Hall.