Could Social Media Drive Turnout of Young Voters?

The "register to vote" campaigns on social media could have the biggest impact on young voters--a group traditionally seen as less engaged in the political processes.

Social media has made a big impact on election cycles in the U.S. While social media can reduce polarization, it can also become a check on politicians or a mouthpiece for political agendas. One area where social networks are having a positive impact is on potential voter turnout, as several sites increase their get-out-the-vote efforts.

Just last week, Twitter partnered with Pew Research Center and Google in an effort to disseminate information about polling place locations and ballots. YouTube partnered with its Creators to build a campaign urging users to register to vote, and it also livestreamed the presidential debates on behalf of PBS, Telemundo and The Washington Post, among others.

However, some of the biggest impacts have been a result of efforts from Facebook. According to Gizmodo, Facebook has conducted clandestine experiments in recent election cycles,  which have influenced hundreds of thousands of potential voters to register for upcoming elections.

The New York Times reported that Facebook’s “Are you registered to vote?” campaign has  prompted similar surges in registration this year. The Times added that Facebook also plans to remind users to vote on Election Day, as it has during each election since 2008.

With these efforts, it’s clear that social media has immense power to motivate young voters–a group traditionally seen as less engaged with elections. When social networks implement these initiatives, they meet young voters where they already spend significant amounts of time. Simple reminders, or more complex user-led initiatives, are having a major impact on the electoral process.

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