May 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Snapchat preps young users to vote in November

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snapchat is working to get younger users to register to vote ahead of the 2020 general election, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: The company was able to successfully register 450,000 people through its app during the 2018 midterms. Now, new data shows that 50% of those registered actually went out and casted ballots.

Driving the news: The new data from DemocracyWorks, a nonpartisan, nonprofit that runs civic tech companies like TurboVote and BallotScout, shows that 57% of Snapchat users last cycle that registered on the platform did indeed cast a ballot.

  • Of those that registered, 57% were between the ages of 18 and 24, a demographic that's usually shy to visit the voting booths.
  • "Users trust Snapchat when it comes to civics, which is why TurboVote sees higher engagement rates there than on any other platform," says Mike Ward, VP of Voter Engagement at Democracy Works, makers of TurboVote.
  • "Snap's success on voter engagement is more important than ever, given that on-the-ground voter engagement can't be counted on in a pandemic environment," he adds.  

The big picture: Snapchat has leaned into civic engagement over the past two cycles, upping its political content and pushing to get more of its younger user base to register, find their polling place and consume accurate information about the election.

  • Its flagship original show staring CNN veteran Peter Hamby called "Good Luck America" has hosted nearly every presidential contender this cycle, including former Vice President Joe Biden, whose three-part interview with Hamby debuted Wednesday and runs again on Thursday and Friday.
  • In February, Snapchat launched a new voter registration initiative, which pushes notifications to user profiles when they turn 18 with directions to register to vote.
  • Over half (52%) of 18-24-year-old Snapchatters will be voting for the first time this November, according to a new survey from GlobalWebIndex.
  • In a normal election year, first-time voters would likely be registering on-campus at college, but amid the pandemic, those options are limited.

Between the lines: Candidates are pushing to get in front of Snap's audience.

  • While nearly every nominee has taken to Snapchat in the past few months to communicate with potential voters, data shows that President Trump's reelection campaign has found the most success on the platform.

Bottom line: Snapchat is leaning into civic engagement ahead of the 2020 race, and it's hoping that its defining role is educating young voters about the election, while connecting them to candidates and tools to cast ballots.

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