College students are perhaps the busiest demographic in the U.S. during the school year. Papers, exams, jobs, and internships consume most of their schedules, leaving them little time to relax and enjoy themselves. One aspect of the price that busy students pay is their ability to participate meaningfully in the U.S. democracy and their civic responsibility to vote.
Unfortunately, many students miss the opportunity to vote because of their busy lifestyles. Some schedules make voting nearly impossible, and some schedules make students prone to forgetting where and when voting is taking place.
“More than twice as many young people said that they did not vote because of ‘registration problems’ like not receiving an absentee ballot or not being registered in the right location. This may reflect that many are first-time voters who are less familiar with the process, particularly if they moved for school or work and had to adjust their registration accordingly. Measures that simplify the registration, address change and voting process could help reduce that gap; they could also help reduce the 10% who said they simply forgot to cast their ballot” (civicyouth.org).
Understanding the issues that college students face when they cannot make time to vote or have difficulty voting, Towson University’s Office of Civic Engagement & Leadership collaborated with TurboVote. This service is informative, convenient, easy to use, and it clears up voting-related issues with simplicity. TU’s partnership with TurboVote addresses all of these issues, and more. Did you know, for example, that Towson University students, faculty and staff members could register to vote in the upcoming elections, regardless of their home state or county? That is, you can register to vote and vote at TU even if your home state is New Jersey or South Dakota.
Does this sound like a lot of paperwork? Actually, no paperwork is involved at all. You can register to vote through TurboVote online in under five minutes, and those who use TurboVote can sign-up to receive text messages and email alerts reminding subscribers of impending elections.
Don’t be part of the “24% of youth said that they missed the registration deadline or that they did not know how or where to register” (Kawashima-Ginsberg, 2014). The benefits of TurboVote—from email and text reminders to the ability to register to vote online—make political civic engagement easy. TurboVote provides students access to required documents, absentee ballots and deadlines germane to each individual. With TurboVote at your fingertips, residents of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota can now vote while living in Maryland, leaving no excuse to miss voting. Utilizing TurboVote to register and then voting can better society—for both yourself and your community.
The Office of Civic Engagement & Leadership sponsors a variety of different initiatives in an effort to get students civically engaged on campus and in their communities. Our programs range from political engagement such as: Voter Registration, the Collegiate Readership Newspaper Program, the New York Times Talk Lunches, and “thoughtful thursday” conversations on Freedom Square to environmental engagement with the Environmental Conference, Sustainability Day, and the Eco-Reps Program. We have community engagement initiatives that bring the community to the classroom through Service-Learning courses in a variety of academic departments.
Civic engagement and leadership encompasses active citizenship, community involvement, advocacy, awareness of social issues and injustices, and the development of personal and social responsibility. Civic engagement requires students to involve themselves in society with the intent to better the world around them through leadership. We are proud to offer many experiences for students, faculty, and staff to practice civic engagement and leadership at Towson University.
For more information, please visit: www.towson.edu/civicengagement
Tyler New and Dr. Christopher Jensen
Office of Civic Engagement & Leadership