Voting might be our democratic duty, but for most people it’s an inconvenient interruption to make an uninformed choice about people we don’t know and issues we don’t fully understand. Sometimes after parking in the rain, standing in line to vote or having to pay a baby sitter to watch the kids. It’s no wonder that fewer than two in ten registered voters will typically bother to cast a ballot.
Three college students want to make voting as easy as using the Web. TurboVote.org hopes to make voting and registration as convenient as renting DVDs with Netflix.
‘€œI had to change my registration and decided it was easier to build a Website than figure out the application process,” says Seth Flaxman, site developer and co-founder of Democracy Works. Flaxman is a Nyack native who co-founded the group with fellow Harvard School of Government grad students Kathryn Peters and Amanda Cassel Kraft.
You can TurboVote in four easy steps. First, sign up online at TurboVote.org. A completed vote-from-home application comes to you in the mail including a postage-paid and pre-addressed envelope. In Step Three you vote from home — or anywhere else at anytime you choose. Ballots are mailed back to the local election board in the last step of the process. TurboVote says they will send voters a reminder by text or email so that they will never miss another election.
This year, Rockland County voters must complete and mail their absentee ballots to the Board of Elections postmarked by October 26.
TurboVote works in every state. Flaxman says it could work better in New York if we joined the 29 other states where you didn’t need to provide a reason to vote early. “Imagine for a moment: your ballot arrives automatically in the mail and you can sit down in your living room – when it’s convenient – with your ballot and a laptop,” says Flaxman. “If you don’t know enough about the candidates, ballot initiatives or some of the issues, you can Google them. There’s no rush to your polling location ‘€“ you figure out what you need to know and then drop the ballot in the mailbox.”
“We could spend more time deciding whom to vote for if we could spend less time figuring out how to vote,” Flaxman says. “It’s about making the process more convenient ‘€”it should fit in our day-to-day, as part of our multi-tasking lives, with long commutes and even longer hours.”
Democracy Works received a grant from the Sunlight Foundation to create TurboVote.org. Any U.S. voter can use Turbovote for free to auto-generate absentee ballots and voter registration forms.
You can see a one minute video on the project produced by two Nyack artists and animators, Kipp Jarden and Ryan Nace, at Kickstarter.com.