AAS Partners with TurboVote to Help Register Voters
Issue   |   Tue, 10/25/2016 - 23:46

The Amherst Association of Students partnered with TurboVote this year to help students register to vote in the general election, holding a “Get Out the Vote” drive spanning from the last two weeks of September to the third week of October.

TurboVote is a nonprofit startup company that facilitates the registration and voting process for U.S. citizens. The TurboVote drive was inspired by a similar AAS-sponsored voter registration drive in 2012, said AAS Chief of Staff Paul Gramieri ’17. Over the summer, AAS President Karen Blake ’17 proposed the option of working with TurboVote again to the senate.

“After some discussion, we were able to partner with [President Biddy Martin’s] office and Student Activities,” Gramieri said in an email interview. “This was also a good opportunity for the AAS to provide an important service to students, as opposed to the college offering this service, since we were all elected to represent the students and their interests as it pertains to being a citizen of this college and a resident of our democracy.”

According to Blake, working with TurboVote was “fairly simple.” Through the partnership, TurboVote provided a personalized collegiate link as well as access to data analytics collected by the site.

“The service is comprehensive and streamlined, which made the registration process for students quick and easy,” Blake said in an email interview. “The mission of TurboVote is general voter education. Therefore, even those who are not eligible to vote in this year’s presidential election can sign up for email or text alerts on [local or state] voting laws and elections in which they are eligible. In this way, the service is more inclusive than other providers.”

To promote this service, AAS tabled in Valentine Hall during dinner every Monday, Wednesday and Friday over the four weeks of the drive. Gramieri said that members of the Amherst Political Union, Amherst College Republicans, Amherst College Democrats and other affinity groups were also invited to table with senators.

Both Gramieri and Blake called the event a success. According to Blake, the drive enabled AAS to help 258 students — nearly 16 percent of the student body — either register to vote or request an absentee ballot.

“Even those students who did not utilize TurboVote informed us that the tabling reminded them to take the necessary steps to [ensure] that they were eligible to vote,” Blake said. “Additionally, it was successful in that we were able to partner with other campus offices and student organizations, which is a huge goal this year for the AAS.”

Though Gramieri acknowledged that AAS could have publicized the event by organizing more activities around the election, “Even registering one more person to vote would have been a success, since that’s one more person whose voice would have been heard during our elections,” he said.