Other Group

TurboVote

Website:

https://turbovote.org/

Type:

Voter mobilization software

Project of:

Democracy Works

TurboVote is a software program that assists various communities, particularly colleges and corporations, with voter registration. TurboVote is a project of left-leaning advocacy group Democracy Works and has been contracted by major colleges and universities across the United States to conduct school-sponsored voter registration drives. It has also partnered with major companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, SNAP Inc, Google, Microsoft, and Starbucks.

Democracy Works, the parent organization of Turbo Vote, receives funding from many of the largest left-of-center political funding groups and foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Democracy Fund, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. [1] [2]

TurboVote has been criticized by the bipartisan National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) because it occasionally failed to properly process registrations, and in other instances failed to notify people who thought they had registered to vote but had not actually completed the necessary forms. [3]

Background

TurboVote was created by Seth Flaxman and Kathryn Peters in 2010 while the two were classmates at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. Flaxman stated that he was inspired to develop the software when he could not find a suitable tool to ensure he would not miss another election or voter registration deadline. Flaxman and Peters set to build TurboVote and subsequently created Democracy Works as an organization around TurboVote. [4]

The goal of TurboVote is to increase voter participation by making it easier for communities with lower voting propensity to register to vote and complete absentee ballots. TurboVote especially has targeted college campuses. TurboVote works by sending customized text and email reminders with information about upcoming elections. For users who need to register or vote by mail, TurboVote provides the paperwork along with a stamped envelope addressed to their local election officials. [5]

Activity

TurboVote has partnered with universities across the United States promoting voter registration and candidate information. In an email to the student body, Seton Hall University Dean of Students Karen Van Vorman stressed the importance of voting even in non-presidential elections and cautioned the students against biased media. Seton Hall is one of many universities who have partnered with TurboVote and Van Vorman said that the voting participation among students increased with the partnership. [6] [7]

During the 2020 election, the Stanford Daily reported that Stanford University led the nation in registering students to vote with TurboVote, with more than 10,000 voter registrations. Other colleges that had the largest numbers of engagement through TurboVote included University of Michigan, University of Chicago, Harvard University, Loyola Marymount, Emory University, University of Delaware, and University of Florida. [8]

The TurboVote Challenge, launched in 2016, is an effort by Democracy Works to reach 80% voter turnout by 2024. The initiative includes major brands who partner with Democracy Works including Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, SNAP Inc, Google, Instagram, Microsoft, MTV, BET Network, Salesforce, Starbucks, and others. [9]

Criticism

In 2018, get-out-the-vote efforts at Facebook and Twitter directed voters almost exclusively to TurboVote to conduct voter registration and request ballots. In response, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the bipartisan association for statewide elected secretaries of state who administer elections in 40 states, claimed that TurboVote occasionally failed to properly process registrations, and that in other instances it failed to notify people who thought they had registered to vote but had not actually completed the necessary forms. NASS asked Facebook and Twitter to end their relationships with TurboVote ahead of the 2020 election cycle and instead asked the social media companies to simply direct prospective voters to government sites with accurate information on how to register. [10]

References

  1. “Tools for Voters.” Democracy Works. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.democracy.works/tools-for-voters ^
  2. “Our Funders.” Democracy Works. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.democracy.works/our-funders ^
  3. Huseman, Jessica. “Facebook and Twitter Turned to TurboVote to Drive Registrations. Officials Want Them to Turn Away.” ProPublica. March 11, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2021. https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-and-twitter-turned-to-turbovote-to-drive-registrations-officials-want-them-to-turn-away ^
  4. “Turbocharging Democracy: Alumni Use Technology to Boost Voter Participation.” Harvard Alumni. December 19, 2017. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://alumni.harvard.edu/community/stories/turbocharging-democracy ^
  5. “Turbocharging Democracy: Alumni Use Technology to Boost Voter Participation.” Harvard Alumni. December 19, 2017. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://alumni.harvard.edu/community/stories/turbocharging-democracy ^
  6. Clark, Sara. “Civic Nation BrandVoice: How TurboVote Is Meeting Student Voters Where They Are.” Forbes. July 29, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/civicnation/2017/07/07/how-turbovote-is-meeting-student-voters-where-they-are/#78f532db11b8 ^
  7. Wells, Alexandra. “TurboVote Continues to Partner with the University.” The Setonian. September 19, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.thesetonian.com/2019/09/19/turbovote-continues-to-partner-with-the-university/ ^
  8. Khine, Sandi and Hernandez, Julia. “Stanford ranks first in country in registering students on TurboVote.” The Stanford Daily. January 24, 2021. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://stanforddaily.com/2021/01/24/stanford-ranks-first-in-country-in-registering-students-on-turbovote/ ^
  9. Khorsandi, Yasaman. “Social Media Sites Are Making Voter Registration Easier Than Ever Before.” Newsweek. September 28, 2016. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/social-media-voter-registration-2016-presidential-election-503852 ^
  10. [1] Huseman, Jessica. “Facebook and Twitter Turned to TurboVote to Drive Registrations. Officials Want Them to Turn Away.” ProPublica. March 11, 2019. Accessed July 21, 2021. https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-and-twitter-turned-to-turbovote-to-drive-registrations-officials-want-them-to-turn-away ^
  See an error? Let us know!