NetFlix-for-Voting Startup Tries to Make Democracy Easy

If voting were easier, more people would do it. That's the simple idea behind TurboVote, a new non-profit its founders call a Netflix for voting.

The site simplifies voting by mail. You go to their website, sign up, and they send you the proper forms with a properly addressed, stamped envelope. Then, when elections come up, they send you text and email reminders, so that you don't forget to vote in the scads of local elections.

"The reason why I'm really behind it is that I think it's the first step towards what a modern democracy should look like," said the site's co-founder Seth Flaxman, a master's student at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "Let's just say your ballot came in the mail automatically -- and you could sit down when it was convenient for you to look at your ballot at your kitchen table with your laptop open."

Turbovote launched a prototype in conjunction with Boston University this fall, and they're raising money through Kickstarter, the micropatronage site, to take the system national.

Right now, it costs Turbovote $1.93 to send you all the necessary materials. Though they expect the costs to come down as they streamline and fine tune the process, it's tough to get people to pull out a credit card to pay a dollar or two. In the near term, though, Flaxman said that they anticipate most of their adopters will come within institutions like Boston University or churches or civic groups that will cover the costs for their members.

They need a little more than $5,000 more backing on Kickstarter to reach their goal of $25,000.

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