Voting in local and national elections is an important civic responsibility. But it can also be a huge hassle.
During the last midterm election, I spent a frustrating couple of hours going to three different polling locations before I found the right one. Then I had to stand in line for 40 minutes before I could cast my vote. A less determined citizen would have given up.
TurboVote, an innovative non-profit, has created a new model for voting that makes the experience more like ordering a DVD on Netflix and less like going to the DMV. TurboVote simplifies voting by helping people complete the process by mail - through the internet.
Potential voters sign up on the TurboVote website and enter in some basic information. TurboVote finds out when they need to vote and in what elections, uses their data to complete the necessary forms and mails them along with pre-addressed envelopes. The voter prints and completes the forms at home and drops them in the mail. TurboVote even sends text and email reminders to make sure users don’t forget to send in their forms.
“The idea is that people can take ten minutes to become an active and registered voter online for life. It’s voting delivered to your door,” said Sam Bernstein, TurboVote’s Partnerships Associate. “TurboVote combines the convenience of the internet with the security of a paper ballot. It’s the best of both worlds.”
TurboVote gets funding from schools that want to offer the service to students. They recently signed their 25th school and have new ones coming on every week. “We have student leaders and administrators from the Ivy League to the SEC who are really excited about coming back to school this fall to register thousands of voters,” says Bernstein.
TurboVote has been using NationBuilder to manage its contacts and relationships with current and potential partners. “As a new company we have to be very agile,” said Bernstein. “The flexibility of Nationbuilder’s contact tagging system and advanced search feature have been invaluable.” The system allows them to quickly identify very specific types of contacts to target them for follow-up. “Nationbuilder allows us to be very precise about who we are communicating with, which in turn makes our message more effective.”
NationBuilder initially got TurboVote’s attention when they compared the price to other CRM solutions. Since signing on, they’ve been extremely pleased by how well it works for a traditional sales pipeline. “We have significantly grown our email list and increased our level of engagement with our contacts by using Nationbuilder," Bernstein said. "It has made our relationship with our users stronger and that makes TurboVote a better service."
Over the next two years, TurboVote plans to expand its partnership operations and launch a government initiative. They’re in talks with several different government agencies about potentially doing pilot projects. The goal is to demonstrate TurboVote’s ability to decrease the cost of voting for municipalities and dramatically increase participation in local elections.
TurboVote’s biggest challenge has been getting people to change the way they think about voting. “When people need to do anything these days they go to the internet," Bernstein said. "But there is a cognitive barrier there when it comes to voting."
TurboVote’s goal is to change that frame of mind and make voting easier and more accessible for everyone.