SUNY New Paltz has chosen to opt-out of an electronic voting system for students this election season.
State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced on Oct. 2 that SUNY colleges and universities across the state would be partnering with Democracy Works, a nonprofit, nonpartisan tech start-up, to help voter registration and participation with their TurboVote technology.
According to the announcement, TurboVote allows students to change their registration information at any time and reminds them about upcoming elections in order to increase voter participation among students, making it easier to vote, register or request an absentee ballot.
This technology will most likely not be implemented and is not needed in SUNY New Paltz, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) Program coordinator Eric Wood.
At the beginning of the semester, NYPIRG members met with Student Association Director Mike Patterson to talk about SUNY New Paltz possibly using this TurboVote technology.
“The general consensus was that our current registration efforts were best suited to the campus and that the campus did not need to hire an additional company,” Wood said.
According to Wood, in-person voter registration is the most effective method in getting students to get involved.
“That’s why NYPIRG registers students to vote during class presentations, at information tables, and the campus Farmer’s Market,” he said. “It’s hard for an email service to top grassroots organizing and registration drives.”
SUNY New Paltz does not have the TurboVote tool on campus, but the voting numbers are still going strong due to NYPIRG’s efforts, Wood said.
Students registered in high numbers this year. Starting at the beginning of the semester and concluding on the Oct. 10 deadline, NYPIRG added nearly 1,000 new registrants, according to Wood.
On Nov. 4, students who registered will be voting for Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, Senate and Assembly representatives and House of Representatives seats.
“There are some exciting races on that ballot that are helping to build the buzz,” Wood said. “Students have the opportunity to be a powerful voting block and get politicians to care about student issues like tuition, financial aid and protecting our environment by voting on Election Day. Registering is the first step. Voting makes politicians pay attention.”
NYPIRG is holding a Rock the Vote Concert to increase voter awareness and education on campus. The event will feature guest speakers, live music, free snacks and coffee and activism.
NYPIRG will supply students with voting knowledge including this year’s sample ballot and other election resources. The event will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 28 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Student Union Concourse with the rain location in the Multi Purpose Room.