TurboVote streamlines student voting process

This Election Day, New York State will hold its gubernatorial election along with national midterm elections for United States Congress. In an effort to increase student voter turnout, Geneseo has partnered with TurboVote. The online voting initiative is run by We’re Democracy Works, a “nonpartisan, nonprofit dedicated to the idea that voting should fit the way we live,” according to TurboVote’s website. The website allows users to register to vote, request reminders about elections and polling locations, request absentee ballots and update their personal information.

So far Geneseo has had 232 completed signups, accounting for approximately 4.64 percent of the total undergraduate population. Of those 232, 161 have requested voter registration packages, 136 have requested absentee ballots and 203 have requested email reminders.

Associate Dean of Leadership and Service Thomas Matthews has taken the reins on integrating TurboVote with the Geneseo student body.

“TurboVote came to us … through the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators … they gave the college a grant and that grant is paying for the postage,” Matthews said. “SUNY was encouraging the campuses to do this as well.”

After using TurboVote, users are mailed a package with the necessary forms and a pre-addressed envelope to the relevant Board of Elections.

The main benefit of the service is its ease of use. Located at geneseo.turbovote.org, the website guides you through the different stages of information collecting and occasionally an animated dog named “Turbo” will pop up to explain different pages.

“That’s why I think it’s great for students,” Matthews said. “It’s really simple and easy to use. Everyone I’ve talked to who has used it has said, ‘This is good, this is really easy.’”

The entire initiative is geared toward student registration, which is made most apparent by its reminder system. TurboVote will email students whenever there is an election with the locations of polling stations in the local area. TurboVote has a list of all the polling stations in the United States.

“The nice thing about TurboVote is that it sends reminders,” Matthews said. “For students who have so much going on, it can be easy for them to forget about voting.”

The deadline to use TurboVote to register was on Sunday Sept. 28, as the absolute registration deadline is Oct. 10 and the site takes into account mailing times.

TurboVote will direct users to the Department of Motor Vehicles website, however, which is the only way to register online without hard-copy forms. Users must have a valid driver’s license to do so.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 19, so students are encouraged to do so if they are already registered.

“We know that students care,” Matthews said. “We see it all over campus. We just want students to know they have a voice, and to use that voice. So we’re trying to facilitate that… and right now we feel that TurboVote is a great start.”