The Digital Vote: states and nonprofits push for voter registration online (TurboVote)

American Public Media - Marketplace Tech

Photo: A voter cast a ballot in a voting booth during the Republican primary election April 24, 2012 at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, Penn.

Let's start with the anatomy of a troll: First you email. Then you follow up with a text. Then, if all else fails, you place a phone call. All of this to get your kid in college to register to vote. Technology to the rescue?

"The only thing you should be thinking about when you're voting is who you're going to vote for. We want to make it so that you don't have to worry about the what, where, what forms," says Seth Flaxman, co-founder and executive director of Turbovote, a start up based in New York. He is interested in removing what he sees as the "friction" in the process of registering.

Turbovote is of one of a host of websites that try to make sure you are on the voter rolls ahead of the election. Which is nice. But Turbovote's real strength is that it won't give up on you after this election day November 6.

"More importantly, we keep you registered and help you vote in all of your elections, local to presidential over the course of your lifetime no matter where you move," Flaxman says. He wants to make the registration process as easy as renting a DVD from Netflix.

Turbovote is a non-profit, but the company does not just give the service away. Flaxman is selling it to a dozen non-profits and about 50 colleges, full of all those early-adopter college students.

"Facebook showed that the best way to launch a service for everyone is to start on colleges," Flaxman said. "So that's one of the ways we're starting out. And it's also where there's a lot of need for our service. If you're a college student, chances are you need to register or vote by mail."

Flaxman's company is pushing to get people signed up by tomorrow to allow enough time for registration materials to get to states with the earlier deadlines.


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