University begins partnership with TurboVote


Jackson Fuentes, Contributing Writer

Update (10/16/18 3:21): This article has been updated with the UA TurboVote link.

Stephen Grover had a hard time keeping track of upcoming elections, so he decided to do something about that confusion.

Grover, a senior studying politics, business and social justice in the New College, helped bring the online voting support system, TurboVote, established in 2012, to the attention of student government, the Division of Student Life, and Mary Lee Caldwell, the University’s director of mentoring resilience and citizenship. The University has now entered a partnership with the company.

While TurboVote is a free nationwide platform for students and community members alike, the University will pay for the online voting platform to postmark and send auto-filled registration forms to each student who uses the system, Grover said. The mailing service is mainly for out-of-state students who cannot register online. TurboVote will also be able to help students registering to vote in Alabama who do not have an Alabama driver’s license.

Grover said not purchasing a mailbox at the University shouldn’t be a problem for students trying to receive absentee ballots either.

“Any election mail is able to be sent to your Ferg address free of charge,” Grover said. “The University has had that policy since 2016.”

SGA President Price McGiffert, a senior majoring in civil engineering, said the SGA provided half the funding for the program, with the rest of the money coming from Vice President of Student Life David Grady and the Division of Student Life.

“My main focus was just to try and get the funds,” McGiffert said. “We got Dr. Grady on board, and he covered the other half.”

Caldwell said she was excited to partner with TurboVote because they will help get voting materials from students to the proper election officials

“TurboVote kind of handles all of that for the people that are being registered so there are no worries about making sure that things get to the proper officials because it’s all handled electronically through this system,” she said.

Student organizations on campus often hold voting registration drives during election season. Turbovote can track which students sign up through which student organization via tailored links that the organizations can create.

“Through this program, we have the ability to conduct voter registration drives that really focus on marketing and promoting those drives and getting people within the process,” Caldwell said.  

And for students who move every year, Grover said the system reminds students to update their information.

“I move every year because I’m a student who changes housing all the time,” he said. “What I do is – I’m able to re-register my new location online.”

TurboVote’s three-part notification process will help alert and educate students via text message about upcoming elections, said Grover, a member of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a group that “works to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy,” according to its website.

“I’ve used [TurboVote] personally because it can notify you where your polling place is, which is a huge confusion for a lot of people because there are just so many in Tuscaloosa,” Grover said.

TurboVote will first remind students 30 days before an election so they may request an absentee ballot. It will then send a second notification 14 days before elections to notify those with absentee ballots that they should be submitted in the near future.

Finally, Grover said TurboVote will notify the user the day of the election where his or her polling place is, what hours the polling places are open and what form of identification is necessary to bring.

“If you want to register to vote through TurboVote, I’d say that takes a total of five minutes,” he said. “We’re paying for this service to make it super simple for students.”

McGiffert said the program is a great way to stay up to date with all elections, where to vote and how to receive and send absentee ballots.

Caldwell said the University has encouraged the partnership.

“The Division of Student Life, Dr. Grady and other university administrators have been very supportive of being able to have a straight-line, easy process to get engaged in this,” she said.

Ultimately, Grover said the University hopes to implement this partnership for years to come by fostering civic engagement.

“As soon as we are really able to prove that students are interested in this, I think the school will be very eager to promote something that encourages civic engagement,” Grover said.

The UA TurboVote portal can be found at