Volume 2, Number 12 - March 07, 2012

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Brittany Esquijarosa
Brittany Esquijarosa
Staff Writer

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Voting Made Easy: Virtually

By Brittany Esquijarosa

Voting is now as easy as renting an online movie.

TurboVote is an online voter-assistance service that aims to make the voting process hassle-free.

"It seems easy and effective. It's great to be able to participate right from home without any inconveniences," said Shannon Ferguson, 20, a Kendall Campus student.

Seth Flaxman, a Harvard graduate and the creator of TurboVote, was inspired by his lack of voting participation and Netflix fixation to “make participating in democracy just as easy as renting movies.”

The service is still fairly new but expanding rapidly in colleges across Miami-Dade County.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supplied TurboVote with a $205,000 grant, allowing Flaxman to reach out to Miami Dade College, the University of Miami and Florida International University—schools that decided to partner with the up-and-coming website.

“We were aware it needed to grow, so starting with colleges, [TurboVote] would help bring focus on to students,” said Matt Haggman, the Miami Program Director for the Knight Foundation.

By registering at the website, members are able to register to vote and request absentee ballots, which are mailed directly to their home and must be filled out and mailed to their local elections department. They can also subscribe for email newsletters and text message reminders for upcoming elections.

All stamps are prepaid for students.

But not everyone is enamored with the idea of voting online.

"Although it does seem hassle-free, people are going to lose the experience of going for themselves and making a difference in person," said Elizabeth Penate, a Kendall Campus student.

Depending on the district one lives in, TurboVote will encourage members to vote in local mayoral and school board elections.

“That’s the thing, it’s never not election season,” Flaxman said. “Most people only pay attention during presidential elections. Local government impacts your daily life even more.”

Flaxman, alongside co-founder Amanda Kraft, initiated TurboVote at Boston University and Harvard University during the 2008 presidential elections. They partnered with the Vote for Change campaign that aimed at heavily influencing young people to vote.

“I think our country and community depends on the youth,” Flaxman said.

TurboVote will make its first appearance at MDC on April 11 at all seven campuses during their respective activity fair, as well as on advertisements and posters around the school, and e-blasts that will be sent to each student’s MDC e-mail account.

InterAmerican Campus’ Dean of Students Lourdes Perez assures those strategies are something students will respond well to.

Flaxman believes the Internet has revolutionized nearly everything, and now it’s voting’s turn.

“It is tradition since the 1700’s to have voting accommodated to the American lifestyle,” Flaxman said. “So it was time to modernize things.”

For more information, visit TurboVote.org or e-mail help@turbovote.org for further assistance.

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