Students use voting alternatives to participate in election

Canela Lopez, News Editor

ALTERNATE HEADLINE IDEA: Tulane, TurboVote yields nearly 800 sign-ups for 2016 election
 
With many experts calling this presidential election one of the most turbulent in decades, voters across all demographics are casting their ballots, including those in the 18- to 24-year-old demographic, a group with historically low voter turnouts rates.

Many Tulane students, however, are not sticking to traditional voting methods, such as hitting the polls on Election Day or sending in absentee ballots. They are finding alternatives like TurboVote and early voting, which tend to be better options for their full schedules and lack of access to transportation.

The state of Louisiana saw record-breaking numbers on the first two days of early voting from Oct. 25-26, with almost 163,000 people voting, according to The Times-Picayune

Many students, like New Orleans native and sophomore Sydney Monix, decided to take advantage of the shorter lines and more convenient timing of early voting.

“I decided to vote early because, one, I’m a very impatient person,” Monix said. “I wanted to avoid the Election Day lines itself. Because you have to vote within your regional parish, I know that, like in my own parish, there are only like four or five voting booths.”

According to Monix, another benefit to early voting is the accessibility it provides people who work multiple jobs and do not have the time in their schedules to go vote on Nov. 8. 

“There is a big perk of voting early because of the opportunity for other people that may not necessarily be able to make it out to the polls on that Tuesday of Election Day,” Monix said. “But even then, like I know for my [polling place], it stays open until about 6 p.m., but even then … it may not work for everyone, specifically if they’re working one or two or three jobs.”

TurboVote is another option, which was introduced to Tulane’s campus this year. The online service provides students with a ballot that is mailed to them weeks before the election, as well as literature on the issues and candidates on the ballot.

Junior Josh Rosenbaum was one of the students responsible for getting university funding for the initiative. He said he believes that the initiative was successful in engaging members of the Tulane community, tallying approximately 769 sign-ups.

“The success of partnership is a really awesome step towards increased political participation and civic engagement at Tulane,” Rosenbaum said. “I really hope to see the numbers climb following the election, as we look toward future state and local races that really affect the lives of New Orleanians and Louisianians.”

Other students like Monix, however, feel that TurboVote failed to reach a large audience because of poor advertising by the university as an option to make voting more convenient.

“I’ve never even heard of TurboVoting,” Monix said. “I know the only other alternative besides just going to the voting booths is absentee ballots, but I didn’t know that TurboVote existed. As a New Orleans native, [not knowing that Tulane offers the service] is troubling.”

Students who did hear about TurboVote, however, like sophomore Gabriella Burns, said they felt the process was made very simple through the program and would encourage more students to use it. 

“It helps people not only to register but also to find their polling place, so it takes people through the voting process from start to finish,” Burns said. “It’s got a simple setup so it’s easy to use and straightforward. Voting for the first time can be daunting, so it helps students that haven’t voted before navigate the process.”  

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