October 26, 2015
Indiana State University and the American Democracy Project have partnered with a new campus initiative called TurboVote to help bridge the gap between students becoming voters.
The American Democracy Project is a nationwide initiative currently on 200 campuses to address the political aspect within community engagement. With the help of voter registration drives, events like "Pizza and Politics" and their own Twitter handle, Indiana State's American Democracy Project is enhancing participation through outreach programming events.
"You can do a lot in your community, but unless you are a part of representative democracy, your impacts are much more limited," said Carly Schmitt, assistant professor of political science and coordinator of the American Democracy Project. "What the American Democracy Project tries to assistant in developing the next generation of civically minded and politically minded individuals in the United States."
In 2012, 45 percent of young people, ages 18-29, voted in the presidential election. This number was down from the 51 percent of young voters in 2008.
That's where TurboVote comes in. This nonpartisan nonprofit was created to simplify civic engagement by making information more accessible to students. Once students sign up for TurboVote by inputting their general information, it can assist in all aspects of the voting process. Each student can specify what he or she wants notifications for.
TurboVote can send students voter registration documents, reminders of upcoming deadlines and an absentee ballot. Once signed up, TurboVote will continue to follow students past graduation; by simply changing the address on the account, notifications will pertain to his or her new location.
TurboVote breaks down the obstacles of both the registering to vote and the process of voting, thus enhancing access to the political process for young voters.
The American Democracy Project will be undergoing a large scale voter registration drive on the Indiana State campus through next semester. Voter registration pop-up stations and invited sign-up sessions for campus organizations will be a feature of this initiative.
The American Democracy Project also sponsors many interactive events held on campus to foster imperative conversations. Some upcoming events include a Republican debate viewing party in the Cunningham Memorial Library events area on Oct. 28 and "Pizza and Politics" on Nov. 4, which will focus on next year's presidential election. Additionally, at each American Democracy Project event, computers will be available for students to sign up for TurboVote.
With the primary election in the spring and the 2016 presidential election just over a year away, these events will be more frequent during the spring and upcoming fall semester. Allison Ramsey, daughter of Rick and Cindy Ramsey, is the graduate assistant for the American Democracy Project and helps plan all outreach programs on campus.
"I can't emphasize how important it is for students to become aware of the issues that are occurring today and being civically engaged because the issues do affect us whether we like it or not. Getting out there and voting and being aware of the issues can really make a difference," said Ramsey, a history major.
Student organizations can request for the American Democracy Project to come to a meeting and register for TurboVote. Email Allison Ramsey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Signing up for TurboVote is free for Indiana State students at indstate.turbovote.org.
Contact: Allison Ramsey, graduate assistant, American Democracy Project, Indiana State University, 812-237-2514 or email@example.com
Contact: Carly Schmitt, assistant professor, Department of Political Science, Indiana State University, 812-237-2514 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Mallory Eherenman, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or email@example.com
Once enrolled, student voters receive registration documents, reminders of upcoming deadlines and an absentee ballot and more from TurboVote.