If you want further proof that the Hooked Up generation is beginning to have an impact on our society, you need look no further than the upcoming presidential election. While we may perceive the Hooked Up generation to mostly care about being engaged with their social networks and entertained by reality TV shows, viral videos and the latest tunes, many of them are working hard behind the scenes using online tools to bring people together and support worthy causes—including voting.
You may have noticed on the recent, first-ever National Voter Registration Day (September 25) that Google's home page called out the event and included a link to TurboVote. If you were on FourSquare or follow Ben & Jerry's tweets you may have seen the shout-outs that also featured links to TurboVote. What is TurboVote? It is a prime example of how the Hooked Up generation is taking on real-world challenges by leveraging its online know-how and strong work ethic in support of a worthy societal goal.
TurboVote was started in 2011 by a couple of Harvard students who simply did not believe that apathy was the main reason why most students failed to vote. Instead, they thought that it had more to do with the fact that given their hectic lives, many students simply do not have time to get through the hassle of voter registration or filing absentee ballots. One of the founders of TurboVote cited the following statistic for Harvard Magazine: "Sixty-six percent of students in 2010 said they didn't vote because they were either busy, working, or had forgotten." With a worthy goal and plenty of passion, the founders of TurboVote embarked on a Hooked Up Gen crusade. True to their online roots, they gathered initial funds via Kickstarter, a crowd funding platform more commonly used in support of creative projects.
The free TurboVote service has initially focused on college students, but the reality is that we've all missed voting in elections, whether due to not being able to leave work in a particular election day, or because we were traveling or just plain forgot. It is safe to say that most of us haven't voted every time we should have. And while the Internet has made shopping, socializing, and watching videos easier than ever, voting still requires you to fill out paper forms and go stand in line to cast your ballot in person.
My personal experience in signing up with TurboVote was great. I just went to www.turbovote.org where I was pleased to find a clean design and brief plain English forms. I literally completed the process in less than five minutes. For all registered users, TurboVote keeps track of all the voting rules and deadlines that apply to them, and even sends all the forms needed, so all you have to do is sign them and drop them in the mail. And in doing so, TurboVote makes it incredibly easy to avoid the hassle of fulfilling one of our most important rights as members of a democratic society. Perhaps that is why one of TurboVote's mottos of is "We make voting easy" and the other is "we ♥ democracy".
In less than a year TurboVote has partnered with more than 50 colleges and signed up tens of thousands of students. In some schools, registrations have reached more than 20% of their respective student bodies. This past week, TurboVote announced that it had surpassed more than 100,000 registered users. And by the time the presidential election comes around, TurboVote expects to have partnered with more than 100 colleges.
Given that the presidential election is just a few weeks away, TurboVote may not have a material impact on this year's results. However, a survey conducted by TurboVote revealed that 30% of the students admitted that they probably would have not voted without using the program. That is a clear signal that as TurboVote continues to gather momentum, its potential impact in future elections could range from significant to enormous—and well beyond national elections.
When a student or anyone else registers through TurboVote, the program automatically begins tracking their hometown election calendars, sending updates on everything from presidential elections to state primaries to local school-board elections. And the truth is that many of the local elections are easy to forget, but they can be every bit as important in developing a true citizen-driven democracy.
Looking ahead, TurboVote is not just planning to sign up every college in America, they are also planning to partner with local election authorities and offer TurboVote to entire counties, cities or towns.
I sincerely hope that TurboVote continues to thrive, and I look forward to the many other ways the Hooked Up generation will positively impact our society.
Claudio Marcus is Executive Vice President of Marketing and Research at Visible World. Prior to joining Visible World, Claudio was vice president and research area leader for technology-enabled marketing at Gartner, the world’s largest IT research and advisory firm. Before becoming an industry analyst, Claudio’s experience included 15 years working as a database marketing consultant and marketing software entrepreneur, as well as a marketing and advertising agency executive. Claudio has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where he continues to be a guest lecturer, and authored of a chapter titled “The Reinvention of TV Advertising” for Kellogg on Advertising & Media (Wiley, 2008). Claudio can be reached at email@example.com.