A vote for student engagement

TurboVote, a service the College has recently purchased, provides students with greater accessibility to ballots for the 2012 election. Registering to vote or voting absentee can be confusing, as students must decide in which district to vote and must consult the policies of their home districts. TurboVote provides a fast and simple web form that ensures students receive their ballots and have the materials to vote in the upcoming election, removing much of the red tape that may have served as a deterrent for students in the past. The contracting of TurboVote’s services is a step in the right direction in encouraging political activism on campus, and we applaud the College for its initiative in partnering with TurboVote this election cycle.

However, the College’s efforts to advertise TurboVote have not been as successful as they have the potential to be. While TurboVote has appeared periodically in the Daily Messages and was mentioned within President Falk’s e-mail at the beginning of the semester (“What Goes Around Comes Around,” Sept. 5), many students are still unaware that this opportunity is provided on campus, which has limited its efficacy. In order to expand the reach of this convenient service, the administration must find more prominent and obvious ways to distribute information on the utility and process of TurboVote.

That being said, the main issue with voting on campus is that students still lack the motivation to register. Although the standard pen and paper method of registering is feasible, many students feel they are too busy to deal with that kind of bureaucracy. The hope is that this service now removes the excuse of not voting due to the complications of contacting hometown officials or determining which forms are necessary to fill out in order to register. In brief, TurboVote enables students interested in voting to complete the process as efficiently as possible.

While TurboVote is certainly a convenient service, the program alone will not encourage greater political action on campus, which is the larger issue behind students choosing not to vote.   TurboVote has removed one more excuse for student apathy, but the task of encouraging and cultivating a sense of political engagement necessarily falls to students themselves. This is not a problem that the administration can fix by purchasing a voting service or by mentioning the election in an all-campus e-mail; voting and collecting information about candidates is a responsibility that students with a responsibility to engage in our political system must embrace and take on themselves.