Using Snapchat as a tool to recruit voters



Opinion columnist Sam King discusses the recent effort by Snapchat to increase voter registration numbers in the 18-24 age group.

SAM KING, Opinion Columnist

We’re all familiar with Snapchat; the wildly popular app with the yellow ghost icon that lets you take pictures and send them your friends. Snapchat, with awareness of their popularity, decided to do something good with it.

According to CNET, Snapchat has reportedly helped over 418,000 people register to vote. Yeah, no joke. Hundreds of thousands of people have registered to vote using Snapchat. With the election coming up next week, I thought this would be a great story to talk about.

Many tech companies have been encouraging people to vote this past month, with Snapchat as the leading figure in the movement. Instagram, Twitter and Reddit have all had links to the national voter registry to encourage people to vote. Snapchat had a similar idea.

They partnered with a non-profit called Turbovote. Turbovote helps link users to the national voter register, offers information about candidates, and sends reminders to vote if you sign up for them. According to Turbovote, Google and Facebook have also been partnering with them to encourage people to register.

This news gets better too, as the majority of those that registered to vote due to Snapchat’s influence were 18-24 years old. Historically, this age group is one of the least consistent demographics of voters. In fact, the last midterm election in 2014 only saw a 17 percent voter turnout of this age group. According to the New York Times, this is only more dramatic when the majority of the registrations also came from battleground states like Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and Florida.

Granted, there’s no guarantee all those people that registered will actually vote. Then again, why register just to not vote? Even if only half of the people Snapchat has helped register do end up voting, that could make a big difference in some states.

Historically speaking, Americans, not just 18 to 24-year-olds, have been bad at turning out to vote. Only about 6 out of 10 voters casted a ballot in the 2016 election, which was decided by less than 100,000 votes. The last midterm election had only 4 out of 10 voters cast a ballot as well. According to NPR, in some states, the difference between who won the election was less than 5 percentage points.

That’s probably why there’s been so many ads and campaigns to get people to vote. Truly, America has a significant problem with getting the general population to vote. Instead of having an election decided by the people as a whole, it’s decided by a small fraction of the population. Maybe that explains why so few people are pleased with our current government.

The fact of the matter is that nothing will change if no one votes. No citation needed — we can just look back over the course of a few years and see how that is true. Regardless of your political affiliation, it’s in your best interest to vote and have your voice heard.

We’ve all heard the same arguments used against this. “My vote doesn’t matter,” “There’s no point” and “I don’t know who to vote for.” These are at best, lazy arguments. According to Vox, 80 million people didn’t vote in the 2016 election. If all of those people would have voted, the election could have swung in a very different way. Because 80 million votes don’t matter, right?

Then you have people that don’t know who to vote for. Fortunately, Google can easily solve this problem in less than 30 seconds. A quick google search can help anyone better understand what candidates might represent their values. Candidates running for political office have websites with their platforms on them for a reason. It’s easier than ever to figure out what candidate you should vote for.

Despite what people may think about their vote not being useful, the decisions our politicians make affect us a lot. So, you might as well try to at least try to help yourself.

I think that’s what Snapchat was thinking.

Perhaps it’s a bit overly optimistic to get excited about Snapchat helping people register, but a guy can dream, can’t he? Either way, I’m happy to see these tech companies like Snapchat stepping up the plate and trying to help society. They really having nothing to lose by helping.

That’s also true about voting. It doesn’t hurt you and barely takes more than a few minutes. While we may have nothing to lose, we have everything to gain by voting.