Harvard's Institute of Politics Launches Innovative Student Voter Registration Initiative

June 23, 2016

Contact: Mary Cappabianca
Email: Mary_Cappabianca@hks.harvard.edu
Phone: (617) 384-5923


New Program Uses Digital Platform to Engage Students in the Voting Process

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP) located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, announces the launch of a new initiative that will allow eligible students to easily register to vote, obtain absentee ballots and receive digital reminders of upcoming elections. The IOP is collaborating with Democracy Works, Inc., a national nonprofit organization, co-founded by Kennedy School alumni Seth Flaxman ’11 and Kathryn Peters, HKS ‘11, and the Harvard Registrar’s Office, employing a widely-used Oracle platform called Peoplesoft Campus Solutions. This collaboration will provide access to TurboVote, a voter registration application, to all eligible students.  Pioneering a new way to make the registration process more accessible will enable Harvard undergraduates to take their first steps toward becoming citizen leaders. 

Each semester all Harvard undergraduate students must complete a mandatory “check-in” process prior to arriving on campus.  Beginning in the fall of 2016, as part of the process, students will be given the opportunity to register to vote in any state using TurboVote’s online interface.  They  may also request absentee ballots, and text or email updates reminding them of upcoming elections.  This effort will allow Harvard to use digital era technology to expand on a longstanding compliance with the 1998 amendment to the Higher Education Act, which entrusted universities to make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to all students in attendance.

“We are pleased to work closely with the Harvard Registrar’s Office to pave the way for all colleges and universities to standardize campus voter registration for students,” said Catherine McLaughlin, Executive Director of the IOP.  “Voting is essential to good citizenship. I would call upon other colleges and universities to join us in finding ways to encourage students to engage in the political process.” 


Our mission at Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) is to create the future of politics and public service every day, inspiring undergraduates to lead lives of purpose by committing themselves to the practice of politics and governing, and to public service and the countless opportunities to serve at home and around the world.  The IOP was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. More information is available online at http://www.iop.harvard.edu.