TurboVote fails to attract student voters

Counties across New York State participated in nationwide elections on Nov. 4, bringing Republicans to the forefront of the United States Senate and Congress and electing state officials, including incumbents Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Students at Geneseo were encouraged to vote in these elections through TurboVote, an online resource through the Geneseo Center for Community. Current statistics indicate that as of Tuesday Nov. 11, 244 students fully completed signups at Geneseo.turbovote.org. Out of about 5,000 undergraduate students, that is 4.9 percent.

Due to previous lack of participation, on-campus voting was eliminated and local polling was moved to the Methodist church across Route 61 at the lower end of the university.

The Livingston County Board of Elections made these decisions with no input from the Geneseo administration. TurboVote was therefore brought to campus by Associate Dean of Leadership and Service Thomas Matthews at the beginning on the academic school year in order to provide a more convenient way for students to participate in elections.

The national organization, which is dedicated to getting younger people to vote, offered a grant to Geneseo through the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators which allowed its implementation on campus. Geneseo covers any additional costs of each student using the program.

The service allows students to send their votes to any county in the entire country, as well as receive reminders for upcoming elections via email and text.

Matthews urges students to take advantage of this website, noting that politicians influence everything from student’s tuition and loans to healthcare costs.

“There is a direct connection to student’s lives,” he said. “It is in their interest to vote.”

Putnam Hall residence assistant sophomore Eve Huttner discovered the voting site through RA training in late August. She used it as an opportunity to cast her vote through an absentee ballot to Erie County.

“It takes you through steps to sign up, but it tends to be confusing when asking for both your home and permanent addresses,” Huttner said. “I advise students to double check and make sure they are receiving the correct type of ballot to vote from their home county.”

Matthews is aware of this minor setback and encouraged students to sign up again if they originally find difficulties, or seek the necessary help from administrators. He said he hopes to have increased site participation over the next year.

Huttner said that she plans on encouraging her friends and peers to utilize the service as well.

“A lot of people think their vote doesn’t matter,” she said. “In this general election, the individual votes of those who cared made a huge difference. It did not matter whether a state was traditionally ‘red’ or ‘blue.’ It shows how important each vote is, and that each one is heard.”