The Vote Oswego project returns this fall to inform and motivate the Oswego community to register and participate in elections.

The effort, run by the “Vote Oswego” political science class taught by Allison Rank and supported by a graphic design course taught by Rebecca Mushtare, has shifted its efforts to the virtual sphere and enlisted a tool called TurboVote. 

TurboVote is a web platform that allows students to register to vote, request absentee ballots and update their voter information. Students can request to have their absentee ballots sent to their school or home address. The platform can also send out alerts of upcoming election deadlines. 

You must have a state issued ID to register to vote online through the site. Those without that ID can still complete the registration form and either print it/sign it/drop it off at 431 Mahar Hall or request that TurboVote mail it to them with an already stamped and addressed envelope so they can sign the form and mail it to their Board of Elections.  

Nearly 15 million people have turned the legal voting age since the 2016 presidential election, which means college-aged students are positioned to play a crucial role in this year’s election. Vote Oswego is working to achieve a voter turnout rate of over 50 percent, which would be an increase over the campus participation rates in 2012 (33 percent) and 2016 (41.8 percent), Rank said.

Rank said that the motivation to vote is there for college students, but some might need guidance on how to participate.

“Surveys conducted by CIRCLE show that young people are more politically engaged now than they were in 2016 or 2018,” Rank said. “In fact, 1 out of 4 people have participated in a march or protest and 4 out of 5 young people say the pandemic has helped make clear the way politics matters for their everyday lives.”

Rank said voting is not just about choosing candidates whose ideas align perfectly with one’s beliefs, but is about having the right to choose who will be in positions of power to make decisions that affect lives. She added there is no time like now to get involved, not just in the presidential election but all elections.

“I think all young people who are eligible to vote should do so,” Rank said. “Elected officials influence many issues that matter to students including the economy, the environment, immigration, police oversight and more.”

On Constitution Day, Thursday, Sept. 17, the Civic Engagement Coalition will host a panel discussion via Zoom from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Panelists will cover a range of topics from understanding the Constitution to the role it plays in present day activism. More details are forthcoming.

On Oct. 1, Vote Oswego will host a series of events for “Vote Oswego Day.” Activities will include guiding students through the registration process, as well as trivia games on the voting process and an information session on what to expect this year.

For more information, visit the Vote Oswego website.

 -- Written by Rasheed Shabazz, Class of 2020 (December)