TurboVote, a program that provides services that expedite both voter registration and absentee ballot requests, partnered with the Pomona College Dean of Students office and the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) last week.
“Each time you have technology that can facilitate actually doing something important, you should take advantage of it,” said Miriam Feldblum, Pomona Dean of Students. “To me, this seems like a very good use of technology.”
When signing up with TurboVote, students fill out a basic information form online and receive completed registration forms with postage, which allow them to register to vote, update their registration, apply for absentee ballots and receive reminders when elections approach. Funding from the Dean of Students office allows students to take advantage of these services without paying the fee of $1.60 per form normally required by TurboVote.
TurboVote has already made an impact on the Pomona campus. On Sept. 28, ASPC Commissioner of Communications Jesse Pollak PO ’15 said that 139 people had completed voter registration on TurboVote, and 218 people requested ballots to vote by mail.
“I chose to use TurboVote because it was a lot faster and a lot simpler than trying to get my absentee ballot on my own,” Angela Han PO ’16 said.
For students like Han, the process of applying for an absentee ballot has served as a deterrent from voting in the past.
“People don’t know how to register absentee, so they don’t,” said Clancy Tripp CM ’15, Vice President Internal of the Claremont College Democrats.
Tripp said that while most students at the Claremont Colleges seem to be registered to vote, making it convenient and encouraged is constantly a top priority.
Feldblum also said that participation in democracy is key.
“If you’re eligible to vote, then you have a responsibility to vote,” Feldblum said. “Voting matters.”
Although several organizations exist to assist student voters with registration, TurboVote was the best option because it makes the process of registering to vote and absentee voting so simple, Pollak said. Funds paid to TurboVote from the Dean of Students office make it unnecessary for students to obtain postage themselves. Mailing registration material is a major factor in slowing the registration process, although it did become easier for California residents Sept. 19, when online registration opened for those with a California driver license.
“People need to go online, print out all these forms, fill them out by hand, sign everything, get stamps, get envelopes and then send them off,” Pollak said. “We didn’t think that people were willing to do that.”
The TurboVote partnership was implemented with the hope that a simplified absentee ballot process would increase the participation of Claremont students in elections.
“Overall, America’s voting record is not very strong,” Feldblum said. “America needs to pay more attention to voting.”