CHARLOTTE (WJZY) — The younger generation turned out in record numbers in the 2020 election, and now a smartphone app is making it easier for those young voters to get themselves on the ballot. Snapchat started a new feature called “Run for Office”, and it guides users to do exactly that.
Once you search for the tool in your Snapchat app, it asks you to enter in your zip code, choose policy areas that interest you, and you are then directed to possible elected positions to run for. Once you decide in which race you want to throw your hat into the ring, you are given different organizations and groups that can help with your campaign and get your name on the ballot.
Sofia Gross, public policy manager for Snap Inc., said since the political process can seem daunting, this new feature simplifies it.
“Snapchat reaches 90% of the U.S. population age 13 to 24. With that comes an awesome responsibility and huge opportunity of helping this next generation of Americans understand how to make their voice heard,” Gross said.
NewsNation affiliate WJZY sat in on a political science class at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Friday. When professor Eric Heberlig took a poll during the class by asking students if they would be interested in running for office, 32% of them said yes.
“I think when a lot of young individuals are interested in politics, they don’t exactly know where to start. And they see a lot of people at the tail end of their career, either in the state legislature, the governor’s office or in the federal government. And there’s a big disconnect between how do I get there, with where I’m at today? And how do I get to those positions way on down the road? And so I think that this opens up a lot of opportunities for that,” Dick Beekman, student body president at UNCC, said.
Heberlig thinks the app will be a great first start for everyone who is interested in running for office, since it is simple and easy to navigate.
“What I thought was neat about the app, was it asks you first about what the issues are that you care about, and then these are the offices that you need to run for in order to address those issues. It allows people to essentially recruit themselves, that they don’t have to rely on activism or extreme groups to get involved,” Heberlig explained.
According to Ballotpedia, 30% of federal, state, and local elections were uncontested in 2020. With apps like Snapchat making it so much easier to launch a campaign and get on the ballot, experts predict that statistic might be very different come 2022.