Last Tuesday, our Denver and Kansas staff descended on Brooklyn for a week of planning, collaboration, and fun. We also took the opportunity to get our first team photo… ever?
I’m excited to announce some big news! Thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Rita Allen Foundation, we’re working with two national higher education networks to bring TurboVote to 100 new college and university partners this year.
NASPA and AASCU Partner with TurboVote
Our partnership with two of the giants in higher education, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), will set a new standard for voter engagement in U.S. higher education. AASCU’s and NASPA’s support for our work sends an important message that democratic engagement should be a part of every student’s college experience. Check out the official press release about our partnership!
Keeping students engaged in EVERY election
This initiative could not have come at a better time. With midterm elections fast approaching, we are reminded of a key challenge in student voting: participation drops significantly in non-presidential years. While nearly two-thirds of college students voted in November 2012, only 27% did so in 2010. And turnout drops even lower in primary and municipal elections.
Studies suggest that these voting inconsistencies are tied to a lack of easy access to information. 66% of students who did not vote in 2010 missed the election for logistical reasons, according to a CIRCLE study. Some were away, some forgot. Only 12% reported that they missed the election because they were uninterested.
NASPA and AASCU have a proven record of promoting civic engagement in higher education, and their leadership will make it even easier for their member institutions to provide students with the materials and information they need to vote. This means that together, we can can increase—and maintain—voter participation on campus, even in midterms and local elections.
Supporting our growth
More than 90 schools have already signed on to be TurboVote partners in 2014. This puts us far ahead of where we were two years ago—at this point in 2012, only four schools were using TurboVote! Over 18 new institutions have already officially joined us through the NASPA and AASCU partnership alone.
It’s a lot of new growth, and we are expecting a lot more over the next six months. So I’m excited to introduce you to Adrienne Lever, who joined our team in January as Senior Director for Strategic Partnerships. She couldn’t have joined us at a better time—there’s nothing more valuable than getting powerful reinforcements as we prepare for our biggest year yet!
Help us reach more schools! Informational webinar tomorrow at 2pm!
We still have a lot of work to do to hit our goals and we need your help to spread the word. So please take a look at the list of TurboVote partners below. Do you know someone at an institution that is not yet using TurboVote? If so, please forward this email and invite them to join one of our informational webinars. These webinars are free and open to the public.
TurboVote Informational Webinar
Thursday, April 10, 2014 @ 2pm EDT OR Friday, April 25th, 2014 @ 2pm EDT
RSVP to email@example.com
With your help, we can ensure that students across the country participate in the elections this year and that institutions are supporting habits that will lead to life-long civic engagement.
Thank you for being a part of this effort! And happy voting!
The complete list of TurboVote Partner Campuses
Arizona State University
Christopher Newport University
College of the Holy Cross
College of William and Mary
Community College of Allegheny County
Dominican University of California
Eastern Michigan University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Fort Hays State University
Frostburg State University
George Mason University
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Illinois State University
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
James Madison University
Miami Dade college
Michigan State University
Missouri State University
Norfolk State University
Northeastern Illinois University
Northern Kentucky University
Old Dominion University
Palm Beach State College
Polk State College
Saginaw Valley State University
Saint Anselm College
Santa Fe College
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Seton Hall University
Tallahassee Community College
Texas A&M International University
Texas A&M University – Central Texas
The College at Brockport (SUNY)
University of Akron
University of Arizona
University of Central Florida
University of Chicago
University of Denver
University of Florida
University of Kentucky
University of Mary Washington
University of Michigan – Dearborn
University of Nebraska at Kearney
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of North Florida
University of North Georgia
University of Puget Sound
University of Saint Joseph
University of Tennessee – Knoxville
University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia State University
Virginia Western Community College
Wake Technical Community College
Wayne State University
William Paterson University
Big news today here at TurboVote. We are excited to announce a new partnership with two national higher education associations that will help us reach 100 new colleges and universities this year! Check out our press release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE • April 2, 2014
AASCU Contact: Jennifer Walpole, (202) 478-4665
NASPA Contact: Kristal Griffith, (202) 719-1177
TurboVote Contact: Adrienne Lever, (202) 321-5796
AASCU, NASPA PARTNER WITH TURBOVOTE TO EXPAND ON-CAMPUS VOTER OUTREACH
Washington, DC — Today, two of the nation’s leading higher education associations—the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA)— announced a partnership with TurboVote. Through this partnership, TurboVote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, will bring its innovative “one-stop-shop” voter engagement platform to students at college and university campuses across the country.
Made possible by a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation, this partnership will support AASCU and NASPA member institutions in their on-campus voter outreach efforts, help them promote civic learning and foster habits that will lead to life-long civic engagement.
“TurboVote’s platform represents an important and innovative piece of the effort to increase civic literacy and engagement through digital technology,” said Elizabeth Good Christopherson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rita Allen Foundation. “In partnering with NASPA, AASCU, TurboVote will vastly increase access to a key voting demographic while making significant improvements in voter engagement efforts at colleges and universities across the country.”
TurboVote’s platform helps colleges and universities meet federal mandates that require institutions provide students with voter registration information. With help from NASPA and AASCU, TurboVote hopes to support institutions in meeting these mandates and set a new standard for voter engagement in higher education.
“This partnership sends an important message to institutional leaders that democratic engagement should be a part of every student’s college education,” said George Mehaffy, AASCU’s Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change.
NASPA and AASCU’s access to key players in higher education will help TurboVote integrate its platform into established systems and student interactions. TurboVote’s tool makes it possible to conduct voter engagement without collecting or submitting a single form. Simply by sharing a link, schools can embed voter engagement into existing processes such as freshman orientation and class registration.
“NASPA members have a unique opportunity to promote democratic engagement across the many channels of the co-curriculum,” says NASPA President Kevin Kruger. “We are excited to add TurboVote to the tools used to educate students for citizenship both inside and outside the classroom.”
With help from AASCU and NASPA, TurboVote — already working with over 80 campuses across the country—will expand its reach to at least 100 new colleges and universities this year, with the hope that this effort will yield an additional 110,000 new users each year, starting in 2014.
12 institutions have already signed on to launch the service under the AASCU/NASPA partnership.
AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Our work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 14,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories.
TurboVote is a project of Democracy Works, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn, N.Y., that is passionate about building the democracy of the future. TurboVote is a service that makes voting easy. When students sign up, TurboVote keeps track of all their elections—local, state and national. If students wish to register, update their addresses or request absentee ballots, TurboVote sends them all the forms and information they need with pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes. For every election, TurboVote sends text message and email reminders to all users with important election information, dates and deadlines, to ensure that they never miss another election.
CAMPUS MEDIA CONTACTS:
The College at Brockport: State University of New York: Karen Podsiadly, (585) 395-2211, firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Linda Major, (402) 472-3755, Lmajor1@unl.edu
University of Nebraska-Kearney: Joseph Oravecz, (308) 865-8528, email@example.com
It’s time to let you in on a little secret. You probably know us as TurboVote, but the nonprofit’s real name is Democracy Works. Running the TurboVote service is still a big part of our work, but we’ve spent the past few months growing the team at Democracy Works (now at 18 staff!) in order to launch the next phase of our strategy: working directly with local and state governments to modernize voting.
Where’s my ballot?
I’m excited to announce that the Democracy Fund awarded us a two-year, $500,000 grant in part to build a ballot tracking tool for election officials. You can read more about it—and meet our new Director of Government Services, Monica Crane Childers—in a recent story on the Electionline website.
In our research last year, election administrators told us they wanted more insight into (and control over) what happens to the ballots they send through the postal system, so that’s our first task. This tool will also help officials implement one of the recommendations made by the President’s Commission on Election Administration: safeguards for mail balloting, including tracking absentee ballots so voters can verify the status of their vote.
We’re working with election offices in Martin County FL, Boone County MO, and Johnson County KS to design and develop the ballot tracker, and we’re still recruiting additional election offices to our advisory brain trust. The tool itself is coming along nicely, but now we need your help to give it a name. To submit your suggestions, fill out our handy form—and thanks!
Powering voting information for all 50 states
As Katy noted in our last update, we’re working for the Pew Charitable Trusts on the Voting Information Project to build the only complete dataset of every polling place in the US. It’s vital work and an invaluable learning experience. We’re looking under the hood at election offices across the country and meeting the public servants who make our democracy run.
And I’m happy to announce that we’ve finished hiring our team, with Noma Thayer joining as VIP Data Technologist and Maria Bianchi joining as VIP Government Outreach Coordinator.
Free (beautiful) websites for county election officials
Again, thanks to a $50,000 collaboration grant from the Democracy Fund, we’re working with ELECTricity, Dana Chisnell, and the Sunlight Foundation to build a free, easy-to-use website template designed specifically for election offices. The talented team at ELECTricity are taking the lead, but we’re very excited to participate and see where this goes.
Stay tuned for news about our college work
Though this update was all about government, we have a major announcement coming soon about TurboVote’s work with colleges and universities. Expect to hear from us again soon!
We are officially accepting applications to join the 2014 summer intern team here at Democracy Works! Come join us!
If you’re not quite ready to apply yet, here’s a first-hand account from Anjelica Smith, 2013 TurboVote intern and Virginia Tech Student Government Association Vice President, about the exciting world of TurboVote interns:
When the 2013 interns came together last June, we more than doubled the size of TurboVote team. The interns came from all across the U.S. to test the notion that each of us could play a role in bridging the gap between how Americans vote and how most Americans live, with technology serving as both the void and solution. Over the course of ten weeks each of us paired our unique backgrounds and know-how with the prowess of TurboVote’s staff, ultimately expanding access to voting resources for thousands. Six months later, it’s safe to say it was a summer of big wins and rewarding experiences for everyone.
The interns, or as we jokingly nicknamed ourselves, “The Dream Team,” kicked off the summer program with a week of intense training where we learned about the origins of the TurboVote operation, the technology that powers the online platform and a thing or two about the value of expanding our individual skill sets. I remember Matt Cordeiro speaking about the importance of radical clarity in all communications, a skill we would all sharpen over the course of summer. Recalling his experience as a one-man voter registration machine in the scorching Baltimore sun, Sam Novey showed us the importance of narrative building using our own personal experiences.
Inside the office and out, the interns bonded with each other and the rest of the staff. Outside the office, we would meet up for coffee, weekend cookouts, and various escapades around NYC. Within the office, we filled a folder with fun, strange, and unexpected facts about ourselves, and read to the group one every day. From this game we learned that one intern applied to an Australian mime school out of fear that she wouldn’t get accepted to any college, while another started a band called Bacon Weave in high school. I don’t think I’ve ever been around a more eclectic and exciting group of people, and it is safe to say I would never cross paths with these people otherwise.
Looking back, it’s easy to understand how our different backgrounds contributed to our diverse experiences at TurboVote. For some of us, familiarity with student governments prepared us to reach out to other student leaders, which was the first thing we did when we arrived in Washington, D.C. for the National Campus Leadership Council summit. Jedd Countey, a Roosevelt Institute fellow, worked on a policy project focused on higher education’s critical role as an incubator for an informed citizenry, and spoke at conferences and presentations. Bonner Foundation fellow Parker Lawson worked closely with Bonner schools across the country. Ruth Mulvihill, a sister of the Eta Zeta Chapter of Delta Gamma at UChicago, expanded her outreach by connecting with her sisters throughout the region. Another intern, Rachel Goddard, an NYC native who serves as a poll worker in local elections, acted as our resident advisor on all things New York. Computational biology major and glitter enthusiast Katie Byron worked with the operations team to crowdsource election data, making it easier to send the accurate election information to our users.
Although our individual experiences often drove our day-to-day responsibilities, we all grew together during my favorite weekly ritual, the Thursday lunch and learning. Not only did we get to sample an array of southeast Asian cuisine from restaurants around Brooklyn, but were deliberate in taking an hour each week to develop ourselves. Sarah Stern from The League of Young Voters and Angela Linneman from HeadCount visited and discussed their work engaging young people in elections. Jack Cashion, a 2012 TurboVote intern, discussed his senior thesis on statewide student associations. Partnerships Associate Matt Cordeiro and fellow intern John Connolly chimed in with stories of their own experiences as founding members of New Jersey’s statewide student association.
All in all, I had a great summer in Brooklyn. I departed for Virginia with a dozen or so new friends, the patience to tie a bow tie (only on Tuesdays) and an unforgettable experience that I’ll always cherish. In fact, I’ll continue building on last year’s experience when I return to TurboVote this summer to lead the next cohort of interns, who I can only hope will be even more ambitious. Won’t you join me?
If you’re interested in for the 2014 TurboVote internship, apply now!
UPDATE: As of 2/27, we’ve stopped accepting applications for the internship program. Thank you for your referrals and interest!
Come spend your summer at Democracy Works!
At Democracy Works, we build technology that makes it possible for a voter to sign up in one place, online, once, and get everything they need to vote in every election, for the rest of their life, no matter where they move. Since 2012, more than 200,000 voters have used our TurboVote tools, including over 40,000 students at our 70 partner colleges. This coming year, we will lay the groundwork for partnering with 300 colleges in America by the 2014 mid-term elections.
We’re looking for the best college organizers, leaders, and communicators in America. This dynamic team will work to build support among student leaders, college administrators and faculty to bring TurboVote to their schools and ensure that our partners are prepared to successfully launch TurboVote this coming fall.
This full-time position is located in Brooklyn. It comes with a $3,000 stipend, glory, the chance to revolutionize democracy, stellar connections, and great recommendations. Students may also be eligible to receive college credit. The internship will take place over 10 weeks from June 2nd through August 8th.
As this is a startup, you’ll get to wear a lot of hats, like:
- Relationship expert: You’ll be reaching out to colleges and students from around the country to get them engaged in the work of institutionalizing voting on their campuses. You’ll need the confidence and judgment to do so effectively.
- Energizer: You’ll be rallying the team and our networks of local leaders to accomplish a very ambitious goal.
- Logistics Guru: You’ll be guiding our partners through the rigors of higher education bureaucracy as they to become champions of cross campus collaboration.
- Ability to build rapport and effectively maintain relationships.
- Strong organizational and writing skills.
- Ability to follow through on commitments.
- Entrepreneurial spirit and the passion to turn vision into reality.
- Genuine desire to innovate a better democracy.
- Experience in political organizing, leading an organization, editing, or business development is a plus but not a requirement.
Prospective candidates should send a résumé and two references to Matthew Norfleet at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Will intern for democracy” to begin the application process. Applications are due by February 27th, but applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
NOTE: this posting is now closed. Thank you for your interest!
At Democracy Works, we believe that voting should fit the way we live. To that end, we’ve built TurboVote, a service that tracks all your elections. We’ll send you all the materials and information you need to get registered, stay registered, and cast your ballot in every election, from municipal to national–and we’ll even mail you forms with an addressed, stamped envelope for your local election office.
In our quest to make voting easier, we’re also joining forces with the Pew Charitable Trusts and Google as the data and technology partner for the Voting Information Project (VIP), a collaboration to provide every voter with access to standardized information about where and how to vote–data that powers everything from Google’s polling place search to our own text message and email reminders to TurboVote users.
The Data Lead will be the VIP team’s stalwart front line as we acquire, parse, and assess a nation’s worth of election data.
As the data lead for VIP, you’ll:
- Manage an open government dataset that received 25 million hits in 2012
- Train state election offices in data standards and exports
- Build and maintain parsers, quality assurance checks, and data management scripts
- Collaborate with TurboVote’s developer team and Google engineers
- Build and manage a team of data fellows to hand-collect some of the trickiest elements in the lead up to Election Day
- Obsessively attentive to detail
- Creative, in the way that recognizes the artistry in a well-wrought Excel macro
- A fluent translator between jargon and vernacular
- Passionate about civic tech, open data, and government 2.0
- Happiest working with a team
- Interested in both the macro and micro views of any project
You have experience:
- Handling large, complex datasets using some combination of SQL and Ruby/Python (or similar)
- In an agile development environment
- In politics or government
- On highly collaborative teams (leadership experience especially nice-to-have)
- Providing customer support or hands-on services, or working with external partners
- Winning pub trivia (okay, this one’s just a nice-to-have)
Salary is competitive and commensurate with education and experience. Democracy Works also offers a competitive benefits package including health insurance and vacation. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY and Denver, CO, and we hope you’ll want to join our Brooklyn team—though we’ll consider remote arrangements for the perfect candidate.
To apply, send a resume and pithy introduction to Paul and Katy at email@example.com with the subject “Will work for democracy.”
We are building an awesome, diverse team, so we strongly encourage applicants of all races, colors, political party associations, religions (or lack thereof), national origins, sexual orientations, genders, sexes, ages, handicaps and branches of military service. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about our commitment to diversity or about general hiring practices.