TurboVote strives to make voter registration accessible

TurboVote+is+an+online+service+that+allows+students+to+register+to+vote+in+local%2C+state+and+national+elections.+Tulane%2C+through+the+Undergraduate+Student+Government%2C+partnered+with+TurboVote+in+an+effort+to+increase+student+election+turnout.

TurboVote is an online service that allows students to register to vote in local, state and national elections. Tulane, through the Undergraduate Student Government, partnered with TurboVote in an effort to increase student election turnout.

Canela López, News Editor

With the deadline for voter registration for the presidential election drawing near, young adults not registering to vote raises issues about civic participation.

A group of Tulane students has stepped up to the plate in an effort to combat low voter turnout among Tulane students with TurboVote, a nonprofit organization that provides easy access to online voter registration.

According to 2014 statistics from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, 18-29-year-olds were 21 percent of the eligible voting population. Only 19.9 percent of that age group voted, and only 46.7 percent were registered to vote in the 2014 election, making it the lowest voter turnout in 40 years.

Undergraduate Student Government Senator Josh Rosenbaum said his motivation for bringing TurboVote to Tulane stemmed from the overall low rates of civic participation among 18-25-year-olds nationwide.

“Youth voting is at an incredibly low number,” Rosenbaum said. “A lot of that has to do with low voter registration and low access to information. I think there’s a common misconception that young people don’t vote because they’re apathetic. And while apathy is definitely a big issue, two-thirds of university students attributed their abstention to either ‘a lack of information’ as opposed to a lack interest.”

In the spring of 2016, members of USG and the student body started to draft a plan to address the issue of access to registration.

The group included former Tulane College Democrats president Zak Davidson, former Tulane College Republicans co-chairs Michael Mahfouz and Emily Johnson, Rosenbaum, USG vice president for student life Samuel Rich and USG political organizations council chair Gabby Lysko.

The Active Students, Engaged Citizens Act (USG160101) outlined a plan calling for an increased effort to make voting registration forms accessible on campus.

The act also addressed Tulane’s lack of compliance with Section 487(a)(23) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. According to the law, any university that receives federal funding must make an effort to provide voter registration forms to all undergraduate and graduate students.

According to the USG act, as of January 2016, Tulane had not been in compliance with this regulation.

The students introduced a partnership with TurboVote as a solution to this.

The online service allows students to register on the tulane.turbovote.org website for information about upcoming elections, voter registration forms and more.

“After filling out their personal information at tulane.turbovote.org, students will have a filled out registration form delivered in the mail, with a pre-addressed, pre-stamped return envelope, as well as be registered for free election reminders, where they will receive personalized texts with voting information,” Rosenbaum said.

Sophomore Maggie Kobelski recently registered to vote through TurboVote and said her experience was positive. She said she believes the service is important because it engages students in a way that is direct and convenient.

“TurboVote is great because it cuts out a lot of the difficulties between the voter and the vote,” Kobelski said. “Most importantly, it informs users of when various kinds of elections are taking place, elections that are important but often times ignored.”

According to Rosenbaum, 353 students and counting have registered for the service. He cited social media as being the primary recruiting factor for Tulane’s TurboVote.

Due to both the representative for the College Democrats and College Republicans graduating last Spring, the new leadership of both organizations have joined in promoting the initiative.

College Democrats president Brooke Payton said she feels college students have an obligation to educate themselves and be civically engaged in politics at the local, state and federal level.

“It is our duty as Americans to vote all the way down the ballot, from President to senators to school board officials,” Payton said. “If [students] want a change in our country’s leadership, we have to vote for what we want to see. We need a political system that reflects what we, as the next set of leaders, want and need.”