Snapchat Helps Register Over 400,000 Voters

Snapchat Helps Register Over 400,000 Voters


WASHINGTON — Taylor Swift has nothing on Snapchat — at least when it comes to persuading people to register to vote.

Snap, the company behind the popular social media service, said on Tuesday that it had helped more than 400,000 users register to vote during a recent two-week period. Much of the activity, the company said, was in key battleground states like Texas, Florida and Georgia.

Snapchat, which is popular among teenagers and young adults, pushed people 18 and over to register by adding a button about doing so on each user’s profile page. The company also sent video messages to all of those users urging them to register.

The users were directed to a nonpartisan voter registration website, TurboVote.org. Once they answered a few questions about their potential eligibility as a voter, TurboVote directed them to state and local election boards to officially register.

“There is no more powerful form of self-expression than the ability to vote,” said Jennifer Stout, global head of public policy at Snap. “The numbers we’ve seen have been fantastic and have shown us that our users have been some of the most engaged communities out there.”

This month, Ms. Swift urged her fans to vote. In the days after her appeal, more than 166,000 people submitted new registrations on Vote.org, a huge surge. The number couldn’t all be attributed to her, but about 40 percent of the new registrants were 18 to 24 years old, the age of many of her fans.

It appears that Snap may have had an even bigger effect, getting 418,000 people to register. Of that total, 79,148 registered in Texas, 29,044 in Florida, 22,649 in Georgia and 17,994 in Ohio. All those states have competitive races.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google have also pushed voter registration drives, by linking to sites like TurboVote, which work with companies in their voter drive, provide information on candidates and voter initiatives and send text and email reminders to users.

Young Americans are historically among the least consistent voters. But there are signs that they are more engaged than usual in this year’s elections, speaking up on issues like immigration, gun control and health care. And on social media, many young people have promoted their voter registrations and have pushed their peers to vote.

“For young people, voting isn’t as much a civic duty as it is an identity issue,” said Brandon Naylor, a spokesman for Democracy Works, which runs the website TurboVote.

Snapchat’s younger demographic has attracted candidates to the service ahead of the midterm elections. In the hotly contested race for Senate in Texas, between Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent, and his Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, the candidates have used Snapchat to post stories on the trail. Both have appeared on Snapchat’s political television show on the app, “Good Luck America.”

Still, it is unclear how many young people will show up at polls on Nov. 6. In 2014, in the last midterm election, only 17.1 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted. And it would be too simplistic to attribute any uptick in young votes directly to the voter campaigns of social media outlets like Snap, Instagram and Facebook, experts say.

“It’s always difficult to forecast voter turnout,” said Donald Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University. “And it’s hard to say any Taylor Swift-style surge will make a difference.”



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