TurboVote to modernize voting experience for all Americans with Knight Foundation funding

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NEW YORK CITY – (May 2, 2013) – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced $1 million in new support for TurboVote, a nonprofit service designed to modernize voting. The funding will help increase citizen participation in elections through new technology and outreach, while enabling TurboVote to develop a sustainable funding model.

TurboVote, which seeks to make voting as simple as renting a DVD from Netflix, will use the new Knight Foundation funding to expand its reach. Expansion plans include broadening efforts to hundreds of colleges and partnering with additional nonprofit organizations. For the first time, TurboVote will work directly with governments, building new features for local election officials so they can save money by offering TurboVote to all the voters in their district.

The number of states that allow anyone to vote by mail has increased from one to thirty-two (plus DC) over the last twenty years. However, regular voters are still subject to a complex maze of paperwork and regulations for every election. TurboVote imagines a voting system designed around the voter, where citizens sign up one time online and receive help staying registered to vote and voting in all their elections for the rest of their life.

It makes voting by mail easy and also simplifies the voter registration process, sending users completed registration forms or vote-by-mail applications with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes; and reminds voters about deadlines and election days via email and text message. With its Knight-funded launch in 2012, TurboVote helped 190,000 people vote in the 2012 presidential election through partnerships with 58 colleges, 29 nonprofits and a collaboration with Google.

“Expanding TurboVote will incite more people to engage in civic life through the use of new digital tools that lower the barrier to engagement,” said Damian Thorman, national program director for Knight Foundation. “This technology will not only help with federal elections but also bolster voter participation in state and local elections that are fundamental to our democracy and often overlooked.”

The investment is part of Knight Foundation’s Tech for Engagement Initiative, which supports projects that use technology to connect people for action.

“It was barely more than a year ago, in February of 2012, that Knight Foundation introduced me to President Padrón at Miami Dade College, a great institution that would become TurboVote’s second college partner,” said Seth Flaxman, TurboVote’s Executive Director. “It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come since then. In less than a year we gained over 80 partners nationwide and are now diversifying our work to include serving government, the first step toward modernizing the voting experience for all Americans.”

In addition to spurring community engagement, TurboVote will work on building the nation’s first comprehensive data sets of electoral information including information on every kind of election, from local election dates to details on each candidate. These open datasets will enrich the TurboVote service and be a resource for journalists and civic hackers looking to provide better information about elections to voters across the country.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.KnightFoundation.org.

About TurboVote

TurboVote is a project of Democracy Works, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn, N.Y., that is passionate about building the democracy of the future.

Media Contact

Contact: Andrew Sherry, 305-908-2677; [email protected]