College introduces TurboVote program

In an effort to encourage students to vote in the upcoming election cycle, the College has recently offered students a variety of ways to get registered either in Massachusetts or in their home state through a combination of traditional tabling and supplying registration forms, and also by starting to work with TurboVote, a new online absentee voter registration system, as of this fall.

TurboVote is an online voter registration program whose services the College has contracted in an effort to increase student participation in the upcoming election. This voter registration program is an easy, highly accessible way for college students to vote, thereby providing a valuable service for many students at the College who are not from the Berkshire area, and therefore are not registered to vote locally.

TurboVote allows students to register to vote out-of-state and to request an absentee ballot.

Once some brief information is provided, TurboVote accesses the necessary voter registration forms and mails them directly to the applicant at whatever address they choose, simply requiring that students complete and sign the forms in order to receive an absentee ballot in the mail. TurboVote is a free service for students at the College, as the Adminstration has decided to fully fund the program for students on campus to further simplify the voting process.

Along with the forms students receive to register to vote or request an absentee ballot, the service also sends voting reminders via e-mail and text to ensure that students do not miss important deadlines or elections.

Through the President’s office, the College has budgeted approximately $1000 for TurboVote, but the actual amount spent will depend on how many students use the service.

A non-profit, TurboVote was created to increase voter participation among college students, with the goals of making voting easier and more convenient and thereby increasing the youth vote.

Having TurboVote here on campus is an important tool for students in this election year. The College’s recognition of the importance of student efficacy is in line with its liberal arts tenets. “Engagement with the world is at the heart of a liberal arts education,” said Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for Public Affairs. “That theme weaves through countless courses in the Williams curriculum, in the engagement opportunities afforded students both on campus and off, in bringing so many speakers, artists and performers to campus – including those focused on public issues and in this season, on the election. Now there’s this easier way for students to vote.”

TurboVote is simply another way in which the College encourages students to have active voices in the community and within the country as global citizens. Kolesar, who takes care of government relations and ensuring that students have access to resources that allow them to vote as part of his overarching job description, has spearheaded the efforts to get students registered to vote alongside other staff within the Office of Communications.

In addition to offering students access to TurboVote, the College has also made it simple for students who would prefer to vote locally to get registered as residents of Berkshire County by providing students with the appropriate documentation.

The administration and student groups have ensured that TurboVote has a widely recognizable profile on campus.

The online link has been posted in numerous Daily Messages and is also available on the official College website.

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