UCF is one of the newest schools to join up with TurboVote, an initiative intended to get young people informed, involved and participating in the November 2012 election. The Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government is spearheading UCF's involvement in this initiative.
TurboVote executive director Seth Flaxman explains the problem:
"The current way you register to vote does not really make any sense," says Mr. Flaxman, who received his degree in public policy in 2011. "It is from a different era."
Last year, Mr. Flaxman started TurboVote. The Web-based service aims to partner with colleges to make voter registration easier for students. When users sign up on TurboVote.org, the site mails them a voter-registration form, entirely filled out, and a stamped envelope. The idea is to make registration as easy as renting DVD's on Netflix, Mr. Flaxman says. "What we are trying to do is modernize voting for the way we live now."
Even though we tend to pay a lot of attention to the student vote during presidential election years, the problem is really much bigger than that.
In the 2008 presidential election, 60 percent of college students turned out to vote, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, at Tufts University. But two years later, in the midterm election, only 27 percent of college students ages 18 to 24 voted, the center reported. More than half of the nonvoters in 2010 said they had been either away from home or too busy to vote.
UCF is joining nearly two dozen colleges and universities, large and small, public and private, taking part in TurboVote. The Lou Frey Institute is paying for students to join TurboVote. In addition to making registration easier, TurboVote makes other aspects of the voting process easier such as requesting absentee ballots, and receiving e-mails or text messages about upcoming election deadlines such as the start and end of early voting or the time that the polls are open on Election Day.
According to Shelby Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, "Providing an application which streamlines and cuts through the bureaucratic red tape…will be very helpful in getting our students to vote in this upcoming election." The Lou Frey Institute plans to work with the Student Government Association to hold promotional events this fall.