TurboVote activates student voters

Through the College of Public Programs, students are developing a new initiative with the goal of registering more ASU students to vote and getting them to their assigned polling place. All thanks to services offered by TurboVote.

TurboVote is a part of the nonprofit, nonpartisan tech startup, Democracy Works. The site has the voter register quickly to their permanent home address. A cyber-dog named Turbo, a la Microsoft’s Clippy from computer programs of yesteryear, shows up on the webpage to tell the voter important information.

And TurboVote doesn’t just register the user. The site can also set up reminders of when and where every election is so that they can participate in everything from primaries to mid-term elections and all the way to the general election.

Public service and public policy senior Rozan Latham is one of the student leaders with the initiative and says that the goal of this initiative is to not just get students registered to vote, but to have them be informed voters as well.

The initiative aims to register students with TurboVote at ASU by tabling at campus events, making a large social media push for TurboVote and getting people involved with volunteering, Latham says.

Arizona’s voter registration deadline for this year’s election is Oct. 6, and the student lead initiative is trying to make a big splash.

It is very important for students to vote, because it is a right and so many people fought for that right, Lathrum says.

“To say that young people don’t vote, we want to change that,” Latham says. “We want to make that the new standard for students.”

Geoffrey Gonsher, professor at the School of Public Affairs, is the faculty behind the TurboVote initiative.

When the school learned about TurboVote last year, Gonsher says they thought it would be a very impressive tool to help young people register to vote. Gonsher says TurboVote goes beyond registering the student, and it engages the voter by reminding them of election times, sending them ballots and telling them where they need to go to vote.

“Participating in the voting process is essential for everybody in the United States,” Gonsher says. “And it’s important for every generation within our country to participate equally. And the younger population is just as important as every other generational proportion.”

Urban and metropolitan studies junior Zachary Werdean is the social media chair for the initiative. He says they want to help students learn about voting because he feels that the older generations vote much more, leading to underrepresentation of today's generation.

“I feel like our voice isn’t really heard. So, this is going to allow our generation to step up their game and get more into the voting scene,” Werdean says.

Graphic by Josh Eberhard. Statistics from the United States Census Bureau (census.gov). Graphic by Josh Eberhard.

TurboVote at ASU isn’t the only one using TurboVote to get students registered in time for the upcoming elections.

The Common Sense Action Chapter at ASU is an organization that aims to increase interest in politics for millennials. The group also uses TurboVote to register students and it hopes to get 10,000 people registered through TurboVote across the nation before voter registration deadlines.

Members of the ASU Chapter say they hope to do their part by getting students to register using TurboVote through tabling, going door to door with computers, social media, email blasts and having professors in the Political Science Department sending out their TurboVote link to students, political science senior Tania Cohen says.

Cohen stresses the importance of TurboVote because of the reminders it gives about the elections. She says it helps the registered voter actually get out there and have their voice heard on Election Day.

“(The) reminders help (them) vote,” Cohen says. “Being registered doesn’t mean anything unless you vote.”

Email the writer at jamillar@asu.edu or via twitter @jesse_millard

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