Some students unable to vote after attempting to register through TurboVote
MSA Operations Chairman Josh Tennison: “We need to apologize to our students.”
Nov. 15, 2016
On Election Day, some students were unable to cast their votes even though they had claimed they registered through TurboVote.
Organizations such as the Missouri Students Association and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri paid the company TurboVote to help students on campus register to vote in Boone County. The company provides access to voter registration documents, but does not submit the forms to election offices. Users must mail the forms in themselves.
According to MSA Operations Committee Chairman Josh Tennison, a mistake was made in the process of getting students’ information from TurboVote to Boone County. Tennison, a poll worker, said some students who thought they had registered through TurboVote were not registered in the system.
“The idea was students would easily be able to register, [but] that didn’t happen,” Tennison said.
Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren said TurboVote does not send voter information to the county, but just gives the voter an application to register. The voter then is responsible to send the application to the county in which they are requesting to vote.
“It would have been better for students to use our online voter registration to avoid this problem,” Noren wrote in an email.
Chris Dade, president of the MU Chapter of ASUM, said there could’ve been a number of things that went wrong with the registration process. Students could have misunderstood the process and failed to deliver the form to the designated office. Volunteers trying to use the service to register voters could have misunderstood as well.
“There’s a potential that during some of our larger voter registration drives, a lot of our volunteers weren’t as familiar with the system and may have thought that people were registering to vote and told them that they completed the registration process before they actually had,” Dade said.
Dade said that when informing students about TurboVote, they stressed that it was a tool to register through and not an actual registration website. He said he didn’t know what went wrong and can’t know what went wrong unless students contact TurboVote to track their application process.
TurboVote’s Communication Director, Brandon Naylor, said he couldn’t comment on the issue without knowing the nature of the individual’s issue.
Despite this, MSA and ASUM are taking responsibility for the missing registrations.
“That’s a major problem on us,” Tennison said. “That’s something we need to work on and we need to apologize to our students. We told them we would help them register, and we would help them vote.”
Dade also said that “there’s always room for improvement,” but kept trying to see the bright side of it all.
“Overall, I think it was a big success looking at the numbers of students that were registering through TurboVote,” Dade said. “It was really unfortunate that students weren’t actually registered [...] but I think the bright side is that a lot of students were able to vote.”
ASUM said in an email October they had already registered over 1,000 MU students through TurboVote.
Neither Noren, Naylor nor Dade know how many students were affected.
Edited by Emily Gallion | email@example.com