Only 36.76% of DePauw University students call Indiana home. For the rest of the student body who won’t be able to go home to cast their ballots in November, DePauw has provided a new easy way to not only register to vote, but also cast your ballots, and it’s TurboVote.
TurboVote is an online platform that has partnered with DePauw and other universities across the country to help students, many who are voting for the first time, to help them see if they are already registered, how they can register and help request an absentee ballot.
TurboVote was introduced to DePauw by Assistant Director of Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice, Matt Cummings and Coordinator for Community-Based Learning and Civic Education, Samantha Sarich. “They [TurboVote] want democracy to be as easy for you as a student living in a temporary home,” Cummings said, “It’s difficult.”
Students can access TurboVote by going to depauw.turbovote.org. The process takes close to five minutes according to Cummings and can be effectively used by anyone regardless of where they are registered or home state. TurboVote will send you absentee ballots for your state or your registration card, with postage free for students.
“It’s so hard to vote,” said Sarich, but Sarich and Cummings think TurboVote makes it easy for students to be able to be a part of the process. “You can do it on your phone,” Sarich said. In Indiana for instance, residents have until Oct. 11 to register to be able to vote in the presidential election. In contrast, Illinois residents can register up to the day of the election.
Sarich and Cummings are passionate about the democratic process and decided to use their positions in the Hartman House to help instill these feelings in students who may be too far away from home and are worried about how they will participate in November.
The University pays a small fee in external funds for the year, and the contract can be continually renewed. Cummings estimates that if over 200 students signup or use TurboVote, then the program will pay for itself. As of the time of this interview, 80 students have successfully used TurboVote.
“Voting is a great way to be civically engaged,” said Sarich. “Everybody has the right and the privilege to be able to vote in our country and so we want to encourage students if that’s the way they want to their voices to be heard.”
This sentiment has been shared by students around campus, some even volunteering their time to the TurboVote cause. “Voting is important because it’s one of the best ways to voice your opinion, and democracy works best when people vote,” said TurboVote ambassador, senior Amy Brown, “It’s your chance to have a say in the direction of your country.”
There are several TurboVote events that will be happening in the weeks leading up to the election. There will be a “TurboVote party” in the student work space on Thursday between 6-8 p.m. where there will be food, a raffle and T-shirts along with Cummings and Sarich walking students through how to use TurboVote. There will also be a TurboVote table open during lunch on The Day of Dialogue, Sept. 28.