During this tumultuous election year, CSUN has put together several programs and events in an attempt to spur student engagement and rev up student voter turnout.
This is all due to the campus’s All in Democracy Challenge, a campus-wide initiative that looks to educate new and existing voters about the democratic process.
One of the ways they’re doing this is with the help of TurboVote.
TurboVote is a third party, non-profit, non-partisan national voter registration service that when activated will send the user emails or text messages regarding election information, such as voter registration deadlines; polling place locations, how to request an absentee ballot, and ballot measures issues.
They are looking to promote civic engagement among not only students on college campuses but also within companies. Last week, TurboVote announced a partnership with 35 corporations such as tech giants Instagram, Google, Facebook, and Tumblr in an effort to reach as many new potential voters as possible.
Sevag Alexanian, President of Associated Students, said the initiative started earlier last month after AS officers met at a monthly meeting of the California State Student Association. There, Alexanian said different CSU leaders noted the significant increase in participation they saw after partnering with TurboVote.
“They talked about how TurboVote had really helped to engage their student body and increase voter registration, so that’s when we decided to take a closer look at the program itself and see how we could go about implementing it here at CSUN,” said Alexanian.
Events such as this month’s Big Politics Fair and the Funny or Die: Jokes for Votes comedy show are all ways CSUN is trying meet their goal of registering 2,016 voters by the October 24 deadline. That particular number was decided by AS as this is the 2016 election year, according to Alexanian.
AS Chair of Legislative Affairs and member of the All In Democracy Challenge campus team, Jeremy Mauritzen, partnered with the IT department to make the TurboVote icon and link visible on Moodle’s homepage.
“Ultimately, here at CSUN, the goal is to create conscious citizens after we graduate and to be knowledgeable about the issues. So, we took part in this to kind of make more of a finiteness or concreteness to our plan to really civically engage our students,” said Mauritzen.
Due to the polarizing nature of the candidates and the frenzied media circus that surrounds it , many students may be turned off to voting entirely. This is something Mauritzen would also like to undo.
“People so often focus so much of their attention on the presidential candidates, which is an important part, but more than that, I think they should shift the focus to the propositions and to our local officials,” said Maurtizen.
Edwin Lopez, a 20-year-old criminal justice major, who is voting in his first election and registered online, said he is still on the fence about his choice of candidate, is not familiar with any of the propositions, and come November 8, is just going to “wing it”.
“I don’t know yet, who I’m going to vote for. When I get there, I’ll see. I saw the TurboVote thing on moodle and it looked interesting, but I didn’t get it,” said Lopez.
Nicole Smolen, 19-year-old film major, would use TurboVote had she not registered to vote at the DMV. She thinks that many of her peers would benefit from social programs such as the All in Democracy Challenge and TurboVote in the sense that many remain either uneducated or apathetic to matters of democracy.
“I’m taking political science right now and I love that my professor is giving us all these resources to use to help educate us about the issues,” said Smolen. “When I ask some of my friends who they’re voting for, they say something like ‘Oh whoever this celebrity is voting for.’ and that annoys me. I think that voting is a privilege and shouldn’t be taken for granted.”
CSUN has also not forgotten about their large number of students who are unable to participate in the excitement of the election process and included a message on their flyer for the All in Democracy Challenge:
“Because of the significant number of international and ‘Dream’ students, who are not eligible to vote, we encourage ways of participating that build self-efficacy and encourage lifelong civic engagement.”
For more information, visit the TurboVote website.