Innovative website makes voting a snap

Has voting slipped your mind in the past? This time around, students, faculty and staff at SF State will have some help ensuring their voices are heard. Thanks to a new partnership with an innovative online system, the SF State community can register to vote in the time it takes to post a rant on Yelp, make a reservation on OpenTable or update a Netflix queue -- and with as much high-tech ease.

A student's reason for voting in 2012 is written on a knapsack: Why vote? Because I care

Students shared their reasons for voting in a 2012 SF State voter registration drive. TurboVote takes "get out the vote" efforts online.

SF State has partnered with TurboVote, a website that streamlines the process of registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot via smartphone or computer. Need more prodding to make it to the polls? TurboVote can send text and e-mail updates about important dates, polling places and more.

During a get-out-the-vote effort starting Oct. 1 and running through Oct. 20 -- the last day to register for the Nov. 4 election -- the SF State community is encouraged to take advantage of this convenient resource. Regarding security, personal information will be shared only with entities that help fulfill TurboVote's services, such as the state government and the third-party provider used to send text messages.

Created by the nonprofit Democracy Works, TurboVote has partnered with universities and other organizations across the country to make voting more convenient, with the goal of getting more people to vote.

Historically, U.S. voter turnout has been low compared with other countries. According to a report by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, from 1945 through 2001, America ranked 138th of 172 nations in voter turnout, with a 47.7 percent average turnout rate. Countries such as Iceland and Denmark boast turnout rates above 80 percent, even without compulsory voting laws.

The voting rate among young adults is a particular cause for concern. According to a U.S. Census analysis of young-adult voting, Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 have become less engaged over time, with voting rates dropping from 51 percent in 1964 to 38 percent in 2012. While this may be explained in part by an increase in the noncitizen population, who cannot vote, the low rate points to a need for greater youth engagement.

To counteract this decline, in 2012, SF State undertook a large-scale voter registration and mobilization effort that resulted in students voting in higher numbers than San Francisco residents. The introduction of TurboVote is intended to further stem this decline. 

-- University Communications

SF State students, faculty and staff can sign up for TurboVote from Oct. 1 through 20.