The University of North Georgia (UNG) has partnered with Democracy Works, Inc. to research the integration of civic engagement into existing technology on college and university campuses across the country.
Institutions of higher education like UNG have a unique opportunity to promote civic participation by supporting students in the voting process.
"Studies have shown that voting habits developed during a student’s college years tend to become lifelong habits of civic engagement," said Dr. Renee Bricker associate professor of history, anthropology and philosophy at UNG. "This means that institutionalizing voter engagement opportunities can help to create a campus culture of civic participation."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 60 percent of non-voters in 2012 missed Election Day because of process issues such as lack of time, registration problems and inconvenient polling places. TurboVote is an initiative launched by Democracy Works aimed at making voting easier for college students. Through college partnerships, this online voter registration tool eliminates hurdles for students as simple as just knowing where to vote or get an absentee ballot. With TurboVote, institutions can promote and keep track of registration by encouraging their enrolled students to complete a short online process.
In 2012, UNG was the first school in Georgia to become a TurboVote collegiate partner and has led the way in IT integration with TurboVote through pop-ups at election and registration times.
Drs. Bricker and Nathan Price, a lecturer in political science at UNG, are the lead research team in a study they developed to survey administrators, faculty and students from 25 higher educational institutions nationwide. Respondent results will help to develop strategies to combine internet technology with voter registration and turnout.
By the end of March, Bricker and Price will distribute a white paper that maps the internet landscape and voter registration tools of the participating institutions with steps to best integrate TurboVote into established online systems at those institutions.
"We will generate a set of guidelines that colleges and universities can use to integrate campus internet and student registration to provide a big turnout for the November general election based on the results of our study," Price said.
In addition to being active with TurboVote's collegiate efforts, Bricker has also served as national co-chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' e-Citizenship initiative, which seeks to use technology and social media to increase civic engagement.
Comprising a team of software developers, public policy experts and civic organizers working together, Democracy Works is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the idea that voting should fit the way that people live.