Snapchat is helping people register to vote in the upcoming election.
The mobile storytelling app is running a public service campaign in partnership with nonprofit Democracy Works’ TurboVote that encourages voter registration and allows users to check their eligibility and register all within Snapchat.
Any Snapchat user in the U.S. who is 18 and older and therefore eligible to vote can see the video ads between Snapchat Stories that direct to a voter registration mobile webpage within the app that’s powered by TurboVote. The campaign began on Sept. 15 and lasts until Oct. 7.
For Snapchat and TurboVote, the partnership is a way to encourage more people, especially millennials, to register ahead of the 2016 election. Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18 to 34 year olds in the U.S. on any day, according to Nielsen data. That generation has traditionally had a low voter turnout and the same is expected this year. For the 2012 election, 46 percent of eligible millennials said they had voted, according to Pew Research Center.
“Our country’s democracy thrives on participation. But you can’t participate unless you register to vote. We hope this effort amplifies our community’s voice come November,” a Snapchat spokesperson told Mashable.
To get Snapchat users’ attention, the company has partnered with several celebrities, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Seacrest, Jared Leto, Ciara and Jimmy Fallon, to create videos sharing why to vote and explaining how it’s done.
The 10-second videos encourage Snapchat users to swipe up on the app, where they’ll be directed to register.turbovote.org. It’s not as quick and easy as taking a snap. For now, there’s no method to “snap to register” in part due to state laws. Still, the registration process is estimated to take 60 seconds.
Snapchat users are directed to a webpage for TurboVote within the app.
But the final process differs by state. Some states require users to mail in a paper ballot which TurboVote will help coordinate for any sign-ups.
Snapchat also is not collecting or monetizing any individual user data in this campaign.
“Snapchat obviously has tremendous reach, and we specialize in being able to reach the millennial voters. It was sort of a natural connection frankly,” said Brandon Naylor, director of communications for Democracy Works. “We’re super impressed with Snapchat and their efforts. They’re an ideal implementer.”
The ‘Snapchat election’
The voter registration campaign is the latest way Snapchat has entrenched itself in the 2016 election. The Venice, Calif.-based company has been working to support candidates joining the app for the first time, curating coverage of the campaign trail and the debates and attracting campaign ad dollars.
Some have been dubbed it a “Snapchat election” — not unlike the “Twitter election” and the “YouTube election” that came before it.
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel denied a claim that it was the “Snapchat election” and instead called it the “people’s election” in an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last October.
“We really saw an opportunity to not only help politicians reach constituents but really to help people learn about politics in a way that goes beyond just knowledge,” Spiegel told Colbert.
For example, Snapchat recruited Peter Hamby, former political reporter at CNN, as its head of news in 2015. He oversees daily coverage of the election and hosts an original series on Snapchat called “Good Luck America.”
The newest Good Luck America is alive – and it’s all about the swing states. And @JonDavidson_ pic.twitter.com/pEIUxGCvCl
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) September 21, 2016
The Trump and Clinton campaigns have used the app during the election and run large-scale Snapchat video ad buys. Former contenders Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Scott Walker also ran video ads and sponsored geofilters.
The partnership with TurboVote is not Snapchat’s first foray into civic engagement. Snapchat filed its first standalone amicus brief speaking against a would-be ban on taking and sharing selfies and other images in voting booths in April. The ruling is still to come.
“[B]allot selfies and other digital expressions of civic engagement encourage others to vote — particularly younger voters, who have historically low turnout rates,” the amicus brief reads.
A first step
Snapchat is not the only company looking to make voter registration easy and accessible to smartphone users. On Thursday, voter registration organization HeadCount released a way for people to register via text message or on Facebook Messenger.
President of startup incubator Y Combinator Sam Altman cofounded VotePlz as another online way to register. TurboVote also has its own mobile website.
Snapchat declined to share how many users have registered so far. The campaign has inspired positivity from users, as seen on Twitter.
Only in America can Ryan Seacrest help you register to vote through Snapchat.
— BrittanyMcKenna (@britt_mckenna08) September 17, 2016
The fact that I just updated my address & received my new polling place for voting using @Snapchat is SO cool. No excuses! Register to vote!
— Matt Douglas (@theMattDouglas) September 17, 2016
You can register to vote through Snapchat. No excuses.
— Joel Perez (@Joel28Perez) September 21, 2016
Still, registration is only the first step. “Even if you can automate the process of being registered on a timely basis, the next step is getting them to know where their polling place is and actually turning out to vote,” said Dora Kingsley Vertenten, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California. “I don’t doubt the automation part, the concern is the individual’s awareness, one, and motivation, two, to take action.”
Democracy Works, for its part, reminds TurboVote users via text messages and email to finalize their registration and where to go and when to vote ahead of and on Election Day. The nonprofit has also committed itself to achieving 80 percent voter turnout by 2020 via partnerships with several companies, including Airbnb, Lyft, Spotify, Starbucks and Univision.
Snapchat has yet to announce its own plans to get out of the vote on Nov. 8. Until then, candidates and constituents can watch and snap.
CORRECTION: Sept. 23, 12 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story said the ads were available in Snapchat Stories and Discover. They are only available in Stories.