By Louisa Hackett, Senior Managing Director - When talking about getting people to vote, I’ve frequently heard – “Why bother? People only pay attention to this every four years.” It’s true the frenzy dies down after the Presidential election and voter engagement issues diminish, but the reality is local, state and national elections happen way more often then every four years. A year from now New York City will be voting for a new Mayor, and a year after that we will have mid-term elections for seats to the House and Senate. These regularly occurring elections require more -- not less -- civic engagement.Some Universities and Colleges understand the importance of making voter registration an on-going event. As recently reported in The New York Times, Northwestern University and University of Florida now include voter registration in their freshmen orientation. As a result, this year 89% of Northwestern’s freshmen are registered to vote in 37 different states.
What would happen if New York City’s nonprofits integrated voter registration within their daily operations? All together we employ 528,000 people and serve another 2.2 million. If our nonprofit community became civically engaged, got registered, and turned out to vote, imagine what could happen. Do you think the polling places could handle the increased volume of voters?
Fifty-eight colleges use TurboVote to help their students obtain absentee ballots, find voting locations, and track upcoming elections. TurboVote has signed up 100,000 voters to date.
While TurboVote may be a useful tool for nonprofits, its web-based system may not work for everyone. For additional information for how to get your nonprofit involved in getting out the vote: see www.nonprofitvote.org.