Tech startup TurboVote is helping colleges institutionalize voter engagement on campus. According to TurboVote, they want to make voting “as awesome as renting a DVD from Netflix,” calling their process “The New Standard.”
Using the Internet as a platform, the startup hopes to simplify the voting process and encourage forgetful voters to take action.
Institutionalized voter engagement means “providing every student with the opportunity to receive all the information and materials that he or she needs to vote in every election,” according to the TurboVote website. To accomplish this, TurboVote encourages universities to appoint staff members to oversee the process. They claim using “bottleneck” techniques, like providing registration during orientation, helps to encourage voter registration without having students actively seek it out.
In an open letter, TurboVote says younger people are becoming more involved in elections, citing statistics from the 2012 presidential election, which indicates that youth voters made up 19 percent of the total vote, and they attribute the significant turnout to technology and campus leaders who became involved at their respective colleges.
According to a report by eJournal USA, millennials, like those who took action in the 2012 presidential election say they are more likely to vote after receiving texts, Facebook messages and emails. The startup acts as middleman between the voting booths and the voters. They help voters stay updated on registration, assist with absentee ballots and arrange for unregistered voters to become involved. Reminders are sent via text or email to voters when an election is imminent, increasing voter turnout. Their process, they say, is “democracy, made awesomer.”
Reminders are only a portion of their service, though. The startup educates voters on the issues before an election, providing “advance warning,” so voters know the issues and make educated decisions, diminishing “blanks” in voter booths. TurboVote simply wants to eliminate the factors that plague potential voters: lack of research and forgetfulness.
Currently, the startup is working with universities and corporations — such as Google — to expand their program and bring more people to the polls. Using technology to attract and retain active voters, TurboVote, as the name suggests, believes they can reach a large, untapped part of the population by arming them with the knowledge they need, and bringing them to the polls quickly.