Snapchat is preparing to launch new features next month to encourage users to register to vote in the upcoming US election and provide information and resources aimed at voter participation. It’s bringing back the voter checklist card — with information on where and how to register — that it debuted ahead of the 2018 midterms, which Snap says helped more than 450,000 users with voter registration for that election.
Snap cited research from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), a nonpartisan, independent research organization focused on youth civic engagement in the US, based at Tufts University. Its research shows the youngest voters eligible to vote in the November election are interested and politically active but don’t know where to get information about registering to vote.
Two-thirds of voters age 18–21 who had some college experience said they got information about voter registration on their college campuses, CIRCLE’s research found. But with many campuses going remote-only or limiting the number of students on campus this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, college voter registration drives are likely to be affected.
Snapchat says its audience includes 75 percent of 13- to 34 year-olds in the US, and of its 100 million US users, 80 percent are 18 or older. Between 300,000 and 500,000 Snapchat users turn 18 every month, the company said.
Before the 2018 midterms, Snapchat sent every user over the age of 18 in the US a voter registration link from the app, which launched a Snapchat-branded TurboVote mobile site where users could register and launched a filter to promote National Voter Registration Day.
Snapchat introduced an in-app voter registration tool ahead of the 2018 midterms Image: Snapchat
In June, Snap debuted Minis, a suite of miniature applications made by third-party developers that run inside of the Snapchat app. As part of its voter awareness push, it’s partnering with TurboVote, which will build a voter registration mini that includes a tracker to monitor how many users have registered to vote on Snapchat. TurboVote is a tool from Democracy Works, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization made up of developers, public policy experts, and civic organizers.
Facebook-owned Instagram had a similar initiative ahead of the 2018 midterms, partnering with TurboVote to promote voter registration through a series of ads and an “I Voted” story sticker on Election Day.
Snapchat is also planning a “Before You Vote” mini for the November election with BallotReady to let users know where and how to vote and what voting by mail and early voting options may be available in their states. The mini also will provide tools to fill out ballots and locate users’ polling locations.
In addition, Snap is rolling out a voter guide, with resources from organizations including the NAACP, the ACLU, BallotReady, Democracy Works, APIA Vote, I Am a Voter, Vote Early Day, and National Voter Registration Day. It will release content on its Discover page about voter registration and turnout, with a pop-up channel with content from candidates and media.
A Snap spokesperson said all of the voting resources it’s planning will be on for future elections, reminding Snapchat users they can register to vote even if there isn’t an upcoming election.