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Snapchat Hopes Their New Features Will Make It Easier For Gen Z To Vote

TOPLINE

Snapchat announced a suite of new features Thursday aimed at turning out the vote among its young user base, including in-app voter registration, amid a broader push to get young voters to the polls in November and make information about voting more easily accessible.

KEY FACTS

The new features, which will launch in September, include in-app voter registration via Snapchat’s new “Mini” feature, which allows utilities built by outside developers, and a “Before You Vote” mini that shows users their options for voting, helps them fill out a sample ballot and encourages them to make a plan to vote.

Snapchat will also roll out a voter guide with resources from expert organizations, add voting-related content to its Discover feature and add a “voter checklist” as a special voter portal within Snapchatters’ user profiles.

Snapchat’s previous voter registration efforts in 2018 resulted in over 450,000 users registering to vote, of whom 57% ended up voting, according to the company.

The Pew Research Center found in 2019 that 73% of Americans ages 18-24 reported using Snapchat, and the company reports between 300,000 and 500,000 Snapchatters turn 18 every month.

Facebook has similarly rolled out new features around voter registration ahead of the election, including displaying voter registration information on users’ News Feeds, and Twitter has emphasized its civic integrity policy to prevent voting misinformation.

Crucial Quote

“As the platform with the greatest reach among 18-29 year olds in the U.S.,” a Snap spokesperson said, Snapchat believes that it has “a responsibility to tackle” the challenges faced by young and first-time voters—“a traditionally disenfranchised population when it comes to voting.”

Big Number

15 million: The approximate number of Americans who have turned 18 since the last presidential election, according to Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

Key Background

Turning out young voters has historically been a challenge for political campaigns, as a far smaller share of adults ages 18-29 traditionally vote as compared with older demographics. There are signs that the trend is improving: CIRCLE reported that youth turnout in 2018 was the highest ever recorded for a midterm election, and the organization’s polling found that more than three-quarters of respondents are “paying attention to the election and think it will have an impact in their communities.” The Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the election threatens to disenfranchise young voters, however, as CIRCLE notes that political systems haven’t done enough to provide young voters with “accessible information to register and vote during the pandemic.” CIRCLE found that more than 27% of 18-21 year olds don’t know where to find information about mail-in voting and 34% don’t know whether their state has online voter registration. A majority of young voters—63%—also previously found out about voter registration through their schools, which might be more difficult now with many schools and universities remaining remote in the fall. 

Further Reading

Young People and Vote By Mail: Lessons for 2020 (Tufts University)

Facing Criticism And Boycott Over Misinformation, Facebook Says It Will Amplify Voter Registration Info (Forbes)

Snapchat Goes After TikTok By Letting Users Add Music To Snaps (Forbes)

Young People Want To Vote. So How Do We Get Them To The Polls? (Forbes)

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